Medical Definition of Tetralogy of Fallot

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

Tetralogy of Fallot: A combination of four heart defects that are present at birth and account for about 10 percent of all congenital heart disease:

  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)A hole between the two bottom chambers, the ventricles, of the heart that permits oxygen-poor blood from the right ventricle to mix with oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle.
  • Pulmonary stenosisNarrowing of the outlet to the pulmonary artery area with an abnormal pulmonary valve impeding blood flow from the right ventricle to the lungs.
  • Right ventricular hypertrophy (RVH)Thickening and enlargement of the muscle of the right ventricle.
  • Overriding aortaA case in which the aorta overrides or straddles the wall (the septum) between the ventricles, permitting oxygen-poor blood to flow through the VSD into the aorta.

Open-heart surgery is done on patients with tetralogy of Fallot in infancy or early childhood. Untreated tetralogy of Fallot is usually fatal before age 20. With open-heart surgery, the patient has an excellent chance of survival.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018