Tetralogy of Fallot

All children with ToF will need heart surgery at some point in their lives to treat the condition. Sometimes, however, your child may first need to undergo temporary treatment to increase the amount of blood getting to the lungs.

There are two ways of increasing the amount of blood reaching the lungs:

1. Shunt

One way of increasing blood flow to the lungs is by creating a bypass between the aorta and the pulmonary artery (a BT shunt). This operation is carried out through the side of the chest, and the heart doesn’t have to be stopped.

2. Balloon dilation

Another way of increasing blood to the lungs is to use a balloon catheter. A balloon is inserted from a vein in the groin into the narrow part of the pulmonary artery, and then inflated, so stretching the pulmonary valve and part of the opening below it. This does not leave any scars.

Open heart surgery

The aim of the operation is to make the circulation of blood through the heart and lungs normal. To do this the heart will need to be stopped and opened, so a heart bypass machine will take over the job that the heart normally does.

During the surgery, a patch is put over the VSD to close the hole between the ventricles. The narrow area around the pulmonary valve is also enlarged to increase blood flow to the lungs.

More about Tetralogy of Fallot

Author(s): Children’s Heart Federation
Last updated: 2009-12-09