Tetralogy of Fallot

Tetralogy of Fallot is a congenital heart defect (present at birth). It is composed of 4 major characteristics: there’s a hole in the ventricular septum (ventricular septal defect, or VSD); the aorta is on top of both ventricles instead of just the left ventricle (overriding aorta); narrowing of the pulmonary valve or the pulmonary arteries (pulmonary stenosis); and the right ventricle becomes thicker and more muscular than normal (hypertrophy).

Together, these four defects mean that not enough blood is able to reach the lungs to get oxygen, and oxygen-poor blood flows out to the body. Tetralogy of Fallot must be repaired either soon after birth or later in infancy. The timing of the surgery depends on how severely the pulmonary valve is narrowed. If not addressed immediately, life-threatening consequences can occur.

Causes of Tetralogy of Fallot

Doctors know that heart defects present at birth (congenital) arise from errors early in the heart's development, but there's often no clear cause.

Symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot

Signs and symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot include the following:

  • A bluish discoloration of the lips and skin caused by low oxygen (cyanosis)
  • Poor eating and poor weight gain
  • More sleepiness than normal
  • Unresponsiveness (the baby seems "out of it")
  • Heart murmur

Diagnosis of Tetralogy of Fallot

To diagnose this condition, your doctor will perform a variety of tests, including but not limited to:

Diagnostic tests and procedures

Treatment of Tetralogy of Fallot

Tetralogy of Fallot most often requires a type of procedure. Some treatment options include:

Medical and surgical procedures



Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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Children's Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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Tetralogy of Fallot Treatment & Care

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