Tetralogy of Fallot Treatment

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Finding out your baby has tetralogy of Fallot can be difficult. This present-at-birth (congenital) heart defect means your baby needs surgery. That brings questions, fears, and decisions no parent is ever prepared for.

You don’t have to be. At UVA Children’s Heart Center, our experts offer complete repair for tetralogy of Fallot. Our survival rate of 100% is higher than the national average. Children usually spend about one week in the hospital after surgery at UVA Children’s, going home in half the time of other hospitals. U.S. News & World Report named UVA Children’s the #1 children’s hospital in Virginia.

Tetralogy of Fallot Surgery at UVA

Babies born with tetralogy of Fallot need surgery so their hearts can pump enough oxygen-rich blood to their bodies. We offer several types of surgery based on your baby’s health and needs.

Temporary Shunt Surgery

If your baby is not yet large enough for a complete repair or has additional medical problems, we can raise the oxygen in their blood with a temporary shunt surgery. We create a new path (shunt) so blood can go directly to your baby’s lungs to increase oxygen level.

Complete Tetralogy of Fallot Repair

Most children with tetralogy of Fallot need a complete repair when they are 3 to 4 months old. This surgery:

  • Patches the hole in the wall between your child’s lower two heart chambers (ventricular septal defect)
  • Relieves the blockage in your child’s narrowed pulmonary valve so more oxygen-poor blood can flow from the heart to the lungs

After this surgery, your child’s lower right heart chamber (ventricle) goes back to its normal size because it won’t have to work as hard to pump blood. Their oxygen level will be normal.

Pulmonary Valve Replacement

Sometimes, the tetralogy of Fallot repair causes the pulmonary valve to leak. Over time, this can enlarge the heart. Your child may need a pulmonary valve replacement in their teen or adult years to make their heart work better and make it easier to do physical activity. 

In some cases, our cardiologists can replace the pulmonary valve without surgery. Instead, they use a tube (catheter) to reach the heart. The doctor places a catheter into a blood vessel in your child’s leg. Then, we feed a replacement valve through that catheter and place it in the heart. Your child only has to spend one night in the hospital after this procedure.

Ongoing Care at UVA

People with tetralogy of Fallot need lifelong care with a pediatric or adult congenital heart specialist.

Arrhythmias or heart rhythm problems can happen after a complete repair. UVA has pioneered many advancements in treating heart rhythm problems. 

Find Out if Your Baby Will Have Tetralogy of Fallot

Based on an ultrasound or genetic testing, your doctor may suspect tetralogy of Fallot while you’re pregnant.

We offer noninvasive fetal echocardiograms that can tell if your baby is going to be born with tetralogy of Fallot. Then we can help you prepare for your baby’s birth and care after they’re born.

Does Tetralogy of Fallot Run in Your Family?

Our experienced genetic counselors can help you learn whether tetralogy of Fallot runs in your family and what that means.