Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
The treatments for tetralogy of Fallot are surgical procedures to help fix the following four heart problems.
A ventricular septal defect, or VSD, is a hole in the wall between the two ventricles.
An overriding aorta happens when the aorta is located directly over the ventricular septal defect.
This means the aorta is connected to both the left and right ventricles instead of its normal attachment to only the left ventricle.
In pulmonary stenosis, the main pulmonary artery is narrowed and the pulmonary valve doesn’t open all the way.
And, right ventricular hypertrophy means the wall of the right ventricle is thicker than normal.
Tetralogy of Fallot is repaired with open-heart surgery, either soon after birth or in infancy.
Surgical procedures may include temporary and complete repairs.
Your child may not be ready for a complete repair right away.
In this case, a temporary repair, such as a shunt or a stent, can be placed until a complete repair can be done.
Both repairs increase blood flow to the lungs and improve oxygen levels in the blood delivered to the body.
During a shunt procedure, the surgeon will open the chest wall to place a tube, called a shunt, between a branch of the aorta and the right pulmonary artery.
The shunt will provide another path for blood to get to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
During a stent procedure, a tube, called a catheter, will be inserted through a small incision into a blood vessel in the leg.
The cardiologist will use the catheter to place a device, called a stent, inside the narrowed area of the pulmonary artery.
This allows more blood to flow to the lungs.
A complete repair is done when your child is strong enough for the procedure.
During the procedure, the pulmonary stenosis defect may be repaired in the following ways.
If the main pulmonary artery is too small, it will be widened with a patch.
If the pulmonary valve is too small, it may be widened with a patch, or replaced.
If extra heart muscle is blocking blood flow below the pulmonary valve, the surgeon will remove the muscle tissue.
These repairs will improve the flow of oxygen-poor blood from the right ventricle to the lungs.
As a result, the blood will get enough oxygen for the body’s needs.
To fix the ventricular septal defect, the surgeon will cover the hole with a patch.
The patch will prevent the mixing of oxygen-poor blood with oxygen-rich blood.
As a result, only oxygen-rich blood will flow out of the aorta to the body from the left ventricle.
Over time, fixing the pulmonary stenosis and closing the ventricular septal defect will also fix the right ventricular hypertrophy.
Since the right ventricle won’t have to work as hard to pump blood, its wall will return to normal thickness.
If your child still has a shunt from the temporary repair it will either be removed or clipped shut at the end of this procedure.
Similarly, if your child had a stent placed it will also be removed.
To find out more about treatment for tetralogy of Fallot, talk to your healthcare provider.