The heart has 4 chambers. The atria are the 2 upper chambers in your heart—the right atrium and the left atrium. The ventricles are the 2 lower chambers in your heart—the right ventricle and the left ventricle. Heart chambers work together to pump blood through the body.
Blood goes to your lungs to pick up oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.
The aorta is the main artery that carries blood with oxygen away from the left side of the heart to the body.
A tetralogy (tetra means four) is a group of 4 related things. Tetralogy of Fallot is a set of 4 specific heart problems that happen together. One of the doctors who identified all 4 heart problems together was named Fallot.
Babies with tetralogy of Fallot are born with these 4 heart defects:
A displaced aorta receives blood from both the right and left ventricle, instead of just the left, which allows blood not carrying oxygen to flow out to the body. The body needs oxygen in the blood, so it doesn't get enough if the aorta is displaced.
The main symptom of tetralogy of Fallot is:
Some children have life-threatening attacks in which their oxygen level suddenly gets very low. These attacks are called tet spells or hypercyanotic spells These spells may be triggered by crying, pooping, playing, or things that make the heart beat faster. They are most common around 2 to 4 months of age but can happen in toddlers.
Symptoms of these spells include:
Sometimes, children die during a spell.
Doctors suspect tetralogy of Fallot if they hear a certain type of heart murmur (an unusual sound made by abnormal blood flow). Doctors confirm the diagnosis by:
Echocardiography Echocardiography and Other Ultrasound Procedures Echocardiography can be used to detect abnormalities in heart wall motion and to measure the volume of blood being pumped from the heart with each beat. This procedure can also detect abnormalities... read more (ultrasound of the heart)
Sometimes, CT scan Computed Tomography A CT scan uses a large machine shaped like a large donut to take x-rays from many angles. A computer then takes the x-rays and creates many detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Each... read more or MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) MRI is a test that uses a machine with a powerful magnet to make pictures of the inside of your body. A computer records changes in the magnetic field around your body. The computer then uses... read more
ECG Electrocardiography Electrocardiography is a test that measures your heart’s electrical activity. It's quick, painless, and harmless. The results of that test are shown in an electrocardiogram. It looks like a... read more (a painless test that measures the heart’s electrical currents and records them on a piece of paper)
For some babies, doctors need to do several procedures to repair the heart.
If your baby has tet spells, doctors will: