Tetralogy of Fallot (cont.)
Tetralogy of Fallot Symptoms
Most infants with tetralogy of Fallot develop cyanosis in the first year of life.
- The skin, lips, and mucous membranes inside the mouth and nose take on a noticeably dusky blue color.
- Only some infants with very severe obstruction of the right ventricle outflow turn blue at birth.
- A small number of children with tetralogy of Fallot never turn blue at all, especially if the pulmonary stenosis is mild, the ventricular septal defect is small, or both.
- In some children, the cyanosis is quite subtle and may go undetected for some time.
The following symptoms suggest tetralogy of Fallot:
- Growth and development are slower, especially if the pulmonary stenosis is severe. Puberty may be delayed if the tetralogy is untreated.
- The child usually tires easily and begins panting with any form of exertion. He or she may play for only a short time before sitting or lying down.
- Once able to walk, the child often assumes a squatting position to catch his or her breath and then resumes physical activity. Squatting increases the pressure transiently in the aorta and left ventricle, causing less blood to move into the left ventricle, more out the pulmonary artery to the lungs.
Episodes of extreme blue coloring (called hypercyanosis or simply "tet spells") occur in many children, usually in the first 2-3 years of life.
- The child suddenly becomes blue, has difficulty breathing, and may become extremely irritable or even faint.
- Many children with tetralogy of Fallot experience these spells.
- The spells often happen during feeding, crying, straining, or on awakening in the morning.
- Spells can last from a few minutes to a few hours.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/29/2014
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Must Read Articles Related to Tetralogy of Fallot
The electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a diagnostic tool that measures and records the electrical activity of the heart in exquisite detail.learn more >>
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is also called click-murmur syndrome, floppy mitral valve syndrome, and Barlow syndrome after the doctor who first described MVP. Th...learn more >>
Ventricular Septal Defect
Ventricular septal defect is a hole in the wall between the right and left ventricles of the heart. This abnormality usually develops before birth and is found ...learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Tetralogy of Fallot: