Tetralogy of Fallot correction is a surgical procedure designed to correct a set of congenital heart defects. These defects, present from birth, adversely affect the heart's structure, leading to the circulation of oxygen-deficient blood throughout the body. Symptoms like cyanosis, where fingers, toes, and lips may turn blue, are common.

Infants or young children diagnosed with this condition might also experience rapid breathing, shortness of breath, clubbing of fingers and toes, poor weight gain, and irritability. Addressing these defects through surgery can significantly enhance a child’s health and overall quality of life.

Four Defects of Tetralogy of Fallot

The condition is characterised by four primary heart defects:

  1. Ventricular Septal Defect: A hole in the lower heart chambers.
  2. Pulmonary Stenosis: Narrowing at the pulmonary valve and the right ventricular outlet leading to the pulmonary artery.
  3. Overriding Aorta: Displacement of the aorta over the ventricular septal defect, instead of its normal position linked to the left ventricle.
  4. Right Ventricular Hypertrophy: Thickening of the heart muscle

Risks and Potential Complications of the Surgery

As with any surgical procedure, the correction of Tetralogy of Fallot involves certain risks, including:

  • Bleeding
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • Adverse reactions to medications
  • Chronic pulmonary regurgitation (valve leakage)
  • Blood clots, potentially leading to stroke, heart attack, or other serious complications
  • Infection
  • Necessity for additional surgeries
  • Risk of mortality

Optimal Timing for Surgery

The decision on when to perform the surgery is based on the child’s symptoms, but it is generally recommended within the first two years of life.

Consequences of Not Undergoing Surgery

Without surgical intervention, Tetralogy of Fallot can lead to severe complications, possibly resulting in disability or early mortality.

Alternative Treatments

In some cases, alternative treatments such as medication or a Blalock-Taussig shunt (a temporary surgical solution for children who are too weak or small for full repair) might be considered.