TOF usually is diagnosed based on the above signs and symptoms, a physical exam, and the results from tests and procedures. During a physical exam, your doctor will listen to your baby’s heart and lungs to check for a murmur and will evaluate your baby’s general appearance to look for signs of a heart defect, such as a bluish tint to the skin, lips, or fingernails and rapid breathing.
If your doctor finds any signs of TOF, your baby likely will undergo additional testing. Tests that your doctor may order include a chest x-ray, echocardiogram (echo), electrocardiogram (EKG), pulse oximetry, or cardiac catheterization. For more information on these tests, visit our common diagnostic tests page.
The only treatment for TOF is open heart surgery.
Illustration of a heart with a repaired VSD. Illustration by Steven P. Goldberg, MD
Timing of treatment varies, but the more common approach is to wait until your child is about 3-6 months old.
Some babies with TOF can have very low blood oxygen levels soon after birth. If your baby is too weak or too small to have full repair at this stage, the surgeon may perform an initial surgery (shunt procedure) to help increase blood flow to the lungs and give him or her time to grow and get strong enough for the full repair. Complete corrective surgery is done later in life.
Be sure to speak with your baby’s doctor about what you should expect during and after the surgery. You can print these sample questions to use as a basis for discussion with the doctor.