Tetralogy of Fallot is a type of congenital heart defect. It refers to a type of problem with the structure of the heart that is present at the baby’s birth. These congenital defects in the heart interfere with the normal blood flow through the heart. This rare and complex heart defect occurs in approximately five out of 10,000 infants and affects both genders equally.
There are many healthcare facilities in the United States where parents can seek medical treatments for the condition. However, travel is needed so as to access these hospitals. Due to the fact that insurance plans cover medical treatments but not travel expenses, parents need to plan well in order to keep their travel expenses at the lowest.
If you have already identified the hospital that you want to visit for tetralogy of fallot treatment, consultation or second opinion, you can go ahead and plan for your travel. Alternatively, you can check our list of healthcare facilities in the US that provide specialist treatments for tetralogy of fallot.
In the event that you are incapable of meeting travel expenses on your own, you can check our directory of charitable organizations that help in arranging free travel for medical purposes in the country.
About Tetralogy of Fallot
Tetralogy of Fallot encompasses four heart defects. These are;
- A large ventricular septal defect (VSD)
- An overriding aorta.
- Pulmonary stenosis
- Right ventricular hypertrophy
Scientists usually do not know what really causes tetralogy of fallot and other heart problems present at birth. However, heredity and factors emanating from lifestyle choices and nutrition are keys to predisposition to the defects. For example, a person who has tetralogy of fallot is more likely than others to have a baby with the defect.
Signs and Symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot
Cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails and lips, caused by low oxygen levels in the blood) is one of the crucial signs of tetralogy of fallot. Babies suffering from this condition also experience tet spells in response to activities such as bowel movement of crying. A tet spell comes as a result of abrupt drop of oxygen levels in the blood, that causes the baby to turn blue. Additionally, the child may experience the following;
- Become very fussy
- Become very tired and limp
- Have a hard time breathing
- Heart murmur
- Not respond to a parent’s voice or touch
- Pass out
Where to Go for Tetralogy of Fallot Treatment
There are quite a number of healthcare facilities in the country where parents can take their babies for tetralogy of fallot treatment. These hospitals use the latest technology and treatment procedures to provide a comprehensive, family-centered healthcare service. Among these hospitals where you can go for tetralogy of fallot treatment includes the following;
- Mayo Clinic
Professionals trained in treating children with heart diseases (pediatric cardiologists) and pediatric cardiovascular surgeons evaluate and treat children with tetralogy of Fallot and other congenital heart problems at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Minnesota. The hospital has assembled a multidisciplinary team to provide coordinated, comprehensive care.
Treatment of Tetralogy of Fallot
In order to provide proper treatment for tetralogy of fallot, a proper diagnosis must first be done. Doctors diagnose tetralogy of Fallot depending on the signs and symptoms manifesting on the baby, physical examination, and the results from medical tests and procedures. These signs and symptoms normally manifest during the very first weeks after birth. The doctor may detect these symptoms during the usual checkups. Parents can also detect poor feeding or cyanosis and bring this to the doctor’s attention.
During a physical examination, the physician may:
- Listen to the baby’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope.
- Look for signs of a heart defect, such as a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails or lips and brisk breathing.
- Look at your baby’s general appearance. Some babies with tetralogy of Fallot also suffer from DiGeorge syndrome (a condition that causes facial traits, such as wide-set eyes)
Tests and Procedures
The doctor may recommend other tests and procedures in the diagnosis process. These may include the following;
- This is the use of ultrasound to create picture of the heart on a computer screen.
- EKG (Electrocardiogram). This records the baby’s heart electrical activity. It shows how fast the heart is pumping and the rhythm.
Tetralogy of Fallot is treated with open-heart surgery. This can be done immediately after birth or later during infancy. The aim of this surgical operation is to repair the four defects that the condition involves and make the heart to function as normally as it can be possible. This can immensely improve the baby’s quality of life and health.
Types of Surgery
There are two main types of surgical operations that are used in the treatment of tetralogy of fallot. These are;
- Complete Intracardiac Repair. This enhances blood flow to the lungs. It also makes sure that blood rich in oxygen and that poor in oxygen flow to the right destinations. This is the complete surgical operation to treat the defects.
- Temporary or Palliative Surgery. In the past, surgery used to be done on a temporary basis at infancy. This is no longer the case. However, some babies are too weak or too light for full repair. They therefore need this temporary surgery that improves oxygen levels in the blood. The operation also buys time for the baby to get fit enough for the full surgery and complete repair.
Risks Associated with Tetralogy of Fallot
There are several risks that are associated with tetralogy of fallot. Some conditions and factors that transpire during pregnancy may heighten the risk of getting a baby with tetralogy of Fallot. These may include the following;
- Age (being older than 40)
- Alcohol abuse
- German measles (rubella) and some other viral illnesses
- Heredity (Family history of the defect)
- Poor nutrition
- Poorly controlled diabetes
Who Can Go for Tetralogy of Fallot Treatment
Babies suffering from tetralogy of fallot should be taken for treatment immediately. If you notice the signs and symptoms after you have already left the hospital, you should get emergency services for the baby to get back to the hospital. If the parent has already gotten one child that has the defect, the parent should ensure that the second child is properly examined to rule out the possibility of the defect or get early treatment. Babies with DiGeorge syndrome should be taken for diagnosis of tetralogy of fallot because they have an increased chance of getting the defects.
Parents older than 40 years should have their newborns properly checked for this condition. The same case applies to those who abuse alcohol, those with other genetic illnesses and those who may suffer from certain nutritional deficiencies.