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Tetralogy of Fallot

Babies born with tetralogy of Fallot have a combination of four heart defects. These flaws affect heart structure and blood flow to the lungs. This condition is treatable with corrective heart surgery.

Tetralogy of Fallot Treatment: Why Choose Us?

Certain forms of tetralogy of Fallot are life-threatening without surgical treatment. Experts at the Fetal Care Center and the Fetal Heart Center work together to ensure your baby receives world-class care.

Our pediatric heart surgeons are experts at treating babies with tetralogy of Fallot. U.S. News & World Report rates the pediatric heart surgery program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital as one of the nation’s best.

About Tetralogy of Fallot

Tetralogy of Fallot is a birth defect that affects approximately 1 out of every 2,000 newborns. It is a type of congenital heart disease comprised of four defects of the heart and blood vessels:

  1. Ventricular septal defect: A hole in the wall between the heart’s two lower ventricles, or chambers
  2. Pulmonary stenosis: Narrowing of the valve and artery that connect the heart and lungs
  3. Overriding aorta: The heart’s main artery, the aorta, is positioned over the ventricular septal defect, instead of connecting directly to the left ventricle
  4. Ventricular hypertrophy: Thickened right ventricle, or heart chamber

Causes of Tetralogy of Fallot

Tetralogy of Fallot has no known cause. However, children with this heart defect are more likely to have chromosomal disorders, such as Down syndrome or DiGeorge syndrome. Due to the association with chromosomal disorders, you may want to discuss your risk for future pregnancies with one of our genetic counselors.

Diagnosing Tetralogy of Fallot

At the Fetal Care Center, we use the latest ultrasound technology to diagnose tetralogy of Fallot in unborn babies. A maternal-fetal medicine specialist is always present during your ultrasounds to quickly explain your unborn baby’s heart condition and treatment options.

Your doctor may also order a fetal echocardiogram. This ultrasound imaging test assesses the structure and health of your unborn baby’s heart. Learn more about high-risk pregnancy tests.

Treating Tetralogy of Fallot

Throughout pregnancy, you undergo regular ultrasounds to check the development of your baby’s heart. Some babies with tetralogy of Fallot need heart surgery soon after birth. We may recommend that you deliver at a facility like the Women & Infants Center. We have the expertise to care for high-risk pregnancies and newborns with heart conditions.

After delivery, your baby receives advanced medical care in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, or the Level IV Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which is connected to labor and delivery.

After surgery, your baby receives advanced medical care in the Inpatient Heart Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Some babies need more than one surgery during childhood. During pregnancy, heart specialists at the Fetal Heart Center discuss treatment options with you.

Most babies with tetralogy of Fallot have an active childhood after treatment. Heart specialists at the Heart Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital provide ongoing care for children born with congenital heart defects.

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University fetal heart specialist at the Women & Infants Center, call 855.925.0631.