Tetralogy of Fallot

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This congenital condition involves a combination of four birth defects of the heart: 

  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD), a hole in the heart 
  • Pulmonary stenosis, a narrowing of the pulmonary valve opening 
  • Right ventricular hypertrophy, when the muscle of the right ventricle is too thick 
  • Overriding aorta, when the aorta partially covers or is positioned directly over the right ventricle


Symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot
In the United States, most adults with Tetralogy of Fallot have had one or more corrective heart surgeries, however, they may develop shortness of breath or palpitations due to a leaky valve between the heart and lungs, called pulmonary valve regurgitation. This can lead to heart failure or even a life-threatening arrhythmia called ventricular tachycardia.

Treatment of Tetralogy of Fallot
Management strategy will vary depending on the type of surgical repair the patient has previously had. Although medications may be required to treat symptoms, treatment of pulmonary valve regurgitation is one of most common major issues. In the past, adult patients with Tetralogy of Fallot often required multiple open heart surgeries to replace a failing pulmonic valve during their lifetime, however, recent advances now allow cardiologists at Houston Methodist to place a new heart valve (Melody Valve) by a catheter through a small incision.

With optimal treatment, patients may have a normal quality of life, however, the Adult Congenital Heart Association recommends regular follow-up visits — at least every two years — with a cardiologist who specializes in treating Tetralogy of Fallot.