Surgery is needed to close the holes between the heart chambers, and build new tricuspid and mitral valves. The timing of the surgery depends on your child’s condition and the severity of the ECD, but it can usually be done when the baby is about 3 months old. Correcting an ECD may require more than one surgery.
Your doctor may prescribe medication before surgery if the ECD has made your baby very sick. The medicines will help the child gain weight and strength before surgery. Medications may include:
- Diuretics (water pills)
- Drugs that make the heart contract more forcefully (inotropic agents), such as digoxin
Surgery for a complete ECD should be done as early in the baby’s first year of life as possible, before irreversible lung damage occurs. Babies with Down syndrome tend to develop lung disease earlier, and therefore early surgery is very important for these babies.
How well your baby does depends on the severity of the ECD, the child’s overall health, and whether lung disease has already developed. Many children live normal, active lives after the ECD is corrected.
Complications from ECD may include:
- Congestive heart failure
- High blood pressure in the lungs
- Irreversible damage to the lungs
Certain complications of ECD surgery may not appear until the child is an adult. These include heart rhythm problems and a leaky mitral valve.
All children with congenital heart disease should take antibiotics before dental treatment. This helps prevent complications related to heart infections.
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if your child seems to tire easily, has trouble breathing, or has bluish skin or lips. You should also consult your health care provider if your baby is not growing or gaining weight.
Review Date : 4/30/2008
Reviewed By : Mark A Fogel, MD, FACC, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Radiology, Director of Cardiac MR, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Division of Cardiology, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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