Pulmonary Atresia -- Child

Pulmonary atresia is a rare heart defect. In a normal heart, the blood flows in from the body to the right atrium. It then goes into the right ventricle. Next, the blood travels to the lungs through the pulmonary valve. There, it picks up fresh oxygen. The blood then returns to the left atrium and goes into the left ventricle. The blood moves out to the rest of the body. With this defect, there is no pulmonary valve in the heart. Blood cannot flow into the pulmonary artery. This is the artery that brings blood to the lungs. Other heart problems, like a small right ventricle, may also be present.

  • Causes

    A direct cause is not known. This defect develops while the baby is forming in the womb. The baby is born with the condition.

  • Definition

    Pulmonary atresia is a rare heart defect. In a normal heart, the blood flows in from the body to the right atrium. It then goes into the right ventricle. Next, the blood travels to the lungs through the pulmonary valve. There, it picks up fresh oxygen. The blood then returns to the left atrium and goes into the left ventricle. The blood moves out to the rest of the body.

    With this defect, there is no pulmonary valve in the heart. Blood cannot flow into the pulmonary artery. This is the artery that brings blood to the lungs.

    Other heart problems, like a small right ventricle, may also be present.

    Heart Chambers and Valves
    heart anatomy
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    Blood Flow Through the Heart
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your child's doctor may also detect a heart murmur during the exam.

    Images may be taken of your child's chest. This can be done with:

    • Echocardiogram
    • X-ray
    • Electrocardiogram
      (ECG, EKG)
    • Cardiac catheterization

  • Prevention

    There is no way to prevent this condition. Getting appropriate prenatal care is always important.

  • Risk Factors

    These factors increase the chance of pulmonary atresia in your child:

    • Family history of congenital heart defect
    • Other heart defects
    • Certain chromosomal disorders, such as Down Syndrome

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Blue skin color
    • Rapid or difficult breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability

  • Treatment

    Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Some defects may be so severe that they are difficult to treat. Treatment options include: