Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is the most common cyanotic congenital heart lesion found in newborn babies. The defect, which is a major cause of socalled “blue babies,” was first described by pathologists centuries ago.
There are four components to TOF:
• A large hole between the lower chambers of the heart (ventricular septal defect–VSD)
• Obstruction of blood flow to the lungs
• Shift of the aorta rightward over the VSD and
• Eventual thickening of the right ventricle in order to overcome the obstructed flow.
The development of this abnormality occurs very early in gestation (before week 7 of pregnancy). The result is a physiologic state where deoxygenated blood mixes with the oxygenated blood that circulates throughout the body. This leads to cyanosis or a bluish discoloration of the skin.
Once uniformly fatal, TOF can now be repaired by congenital heart surgeons. With ongoing medical care, these patients can be expected to have a normal life with few
restrictions in their activities and an excellent quality of life.
Originally appeared in Our Health, January/February 2016 issue
Douglas Allen, MD
UVA Pediatric Cardiology Richmond
Bon Secours St. Mary’s for Kids
Richmond | 804.628.4787