Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) is a congenital cyanotic defect that affects the normal blood flow through the heart due to a combination of four different abnormalities occurring during the development of the foetus in the womb during pregnancy. Around 5 in every 10,000 babies are born with the condition. Depending on the severity and symptoms, it can be treated surgically and further corrective procedures.
In most cases, causes behind such severe heart defects is hard to know, pointed out paediatric cardiologists at AMRI Hospitals. Congenital heart diseases usually occur due to the abrupt combination of genes or chromosomes, along with environmental factors and involvement of non-prescribed OTC medicines. Most children and adults diagnosed with ToF can lead a normal life, managed by regular medical follow-ups and certain physical restrictions.
Some underlying facts for the condition are:
- ToF is a bunch of simultaneous heart abnormalities
As the name suggests, Tetralogy of Fallot is a complex congenital heart defect leading with four significant components;
• Ventricular Septal Defect- A condition defining a large hole in the septum or heart wall, which separates the lower chambers or ventricles of the heart. The septum is known as a barrier that prevents high oxygen blood from mixing with blood having low-oxygen levels, disrupting blood flow to the lungs
• Pulmonary Stenosis– Narrowing of the pulmonary valve and main pulmonary artery that affects the normal blood flow of the heart to the lungs. In such conditions, the heart has to work harder to pump blood as the pathway is narrowed, resulting in deprivation of oxygen-rich blood in the body
• Defects in the aortic valve lead to enlargement and open it from both ventricles rather than only from the left ventricle. In this condition, the aortic valve changes the direction and gets upside, on top of the ventricular septal defect
• Presence of Ventricular Hypertrophy, which makes the muscular wall of the right ventricles thicker than normal
2. Considered as Rare Congenital Heart defect
Like all congenital heart defects, the exact cause of ToF is still unknown. Named after the physician who first discovered it in 1888, Tetralogy of Fallot occurs is noticed in almost 5 out of every 10,000 births, affecting both genders equally. Also, in 15% of cases, a specific genetic abnormality may be present that is associated with other defects, including cleft palate
3. Signs with Bluish Tint to the skin
ToF is widely known to be a severe birth defect linked with cyanosis, which is revealed by lack of oxygen in the baby’s heart. A bluish tint occurs around skin, lips and fingernails due to poor oxygen levels in blood, affecting overall health. Foetal echocardiograms may help in detecting the condition at an early stage, otherwise cyanosis gets progressively worse with time in some cases, if left undiagnosed
4. Involves Surgery as A treatment
surgeon corrective surgery can help in completely fixing ToF, involving closure of the ventricular septal defect, and relieving pulmonary stenosis. After a successful surgery, the overriding aorta is connected to the right left ventricle, and the thickening of the right ventricular lapses. Sometimes a temporary shunt is required to relieve cyanosis, if any issues are found that prevent surgery
5. Tetralogy of Fallot is a lifelong medical condition
With advancements in modern medicine, ToF has been treated with successful results. However, a person requires a life-long follow up with a cardiologist to ensure heart is in proper health and hs to take precautions as per the doctor’s advice. The survival rate of ToF cases has been increased due to surgical procedures.