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Tricuspid Atresia—Child

(Single Ventricle Defect—Child)

Definition

Tricuspid atresia is an abnormal development of the right side of the heart. It includes a missing valve between the upper and lower chamber and a smaller than normal lower chamber. Tricuspid atresia can make it difficult for your heart to efficiently pump blood to the lungs to get oxygen. Some may also have holes in the wall between the left and right side of the heart. The holes allow oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix.
Heart Chambers and Valves
heart anatomy
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Blood Flow Through the Heart
IMAGE
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Causes

Tricuspid atresia develops when the baby is in the womb. It is not known exactly why some hearts develop this way.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the risk for congenital heart defects like tricuspid atresia include:
  • Family history of congenital heart defect
  • Chromosomal disorder such as Down syndrome
  • Previous pregnancy with fetal heart abnormalities or miscarriage
  • Conditions during pregnancy, such as:
    • Being infected with a virus
    • Having poorly controlled diabetes
    • Drinking alcohol
    • Taking certain medicines

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:
  • Blue or pale grayish skin color
  • Fast breathing
  • Sweating
  • Poor feeding/poor weight gain
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis

Tricuspid atresia may be diagnosed before birth.
After birth, the doctor may suspect a tricuspid atresia if the baby has a blue-ish color and a heart murmur is detected during a physical exam.
To confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of the heart defects, your doctor may order imaging tests such as:

Treatment

Treatment is important to prevent severe complications such as heart failure . Treatments may include:

Medication

Medication may be given to:
  • Improve the levels of oxygen in the blood.
  • Manage the level of fluids in the body to decrease workload on the heart.
Oxygen may also be given to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Surgery

Surgery is often needed right away. Follow-up surgeries may also be needed at ages 3-6 months and 2-5 years.
The goal of surgery is to:
  • Improve blood flow within the heart
  • Restore connections between the heart, lungs, and body
The exact surgery will depend on the type and severity of defects that are present. For example, a shunt may be placed to increase blood flow to the lungs. Later a series of surgeries will be done to reroute blood flow through the heart, lungs and body.

Lifelong Monitoring

Your child will have regular exams from a heart specialist. Your child may also need antibiotics before certain medical or dental procedures to prevent a heart infection.

Prevention

Preventing fetal heart defects may not always be possible. Good prenatal care may reduce some type of congenital heart defects. Prenatal care includes:
  • Visit the doctor regularly to monitor your health and the health of the baby.
  • Eat nutritious food and take prenatal vitamins
  • Do not drink alcohol, smoke , or use drugs during pregnancy
  • Practicing good hygiene and staying away from people who are sick.

RESOURCES

American Family Physician http://www.aafp.org/

American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca/

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/

References

Tricuspid atresia. Boston Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site508/mainpageS508P0.html . Accessed June 21, 2013.

Tricuspid atresia. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available at: http://www.chop.edu/service/cardiac-center/heart-conditions/tricuspid-atresia.html . Updated May 2013. Accessed June 21, 2013.

Tricuspid atresia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated March 29, 2013. Accessed June 21, 2013.

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