Ebstein’s Anomaly—Child

Definition

Ebstein’s anomaly 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. Here, it picks up fresh oxygen. The blood returns to the left atrium and goes into the left ventricle. The blood moves out to the rest of the body.

This defect occurs when the tricuspid valve develops lower than normal in the right ventricle. Also, the valve does not open and close normally. This allows blood to leak in the wrong direction. Ebstein’s anomaly can be mild to severe.

Heart Chambers and Valves
heart anatomy
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Blood Flow Through the Heart
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Causes

This is a congenital defect. This means that the heart forms incorrectly when the baby is developing in the womb. The baby is born with the condition. It is not known why the heart develops this way in some babies.

Risk Factors

Specific risk factors for Ebstein’s anomaly are not clear. Two possible risk factors include:

  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Environmental exposure

Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on how severe the defect is. In some cases, there may not be any symptoms. In other cases, symptoms may include:

  • Swelling in the abdomen and legs
  • Blue or pale skin color
  • Rapid heart beat or skipped heart beats
  • Decreased energy
  • Failure-to-thrive or gain weight
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. During the exam, the doctor may detect a heart murmur .

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

Other monitors and tests may be used to measure your baby's heart rhythm and function. This can be done with:

Treatment

Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Often, surgery is needed right away. Treatment options include:

Medication

Medications may be prescribed to:

  • Help restore normal heart rhythms
  • Reduce fluid in the body
  • Improve cardiac function

Procedures

Depending on your child’s condition, the doctor may recommend:

  • Surgery—Surgery may be needed to repair or replace the tricuspid valve. This will reduce leaking.
  • Ablation procedure—This procedure may be done if your child is having abnormal heart rhythms. A catheter is threaded up to the heart. Abnormal tissue is destroyed to stop the abnormal rhythms.

Lifelong Monitoring

Your child will have regular exams from a heart specialist. In some cases, your child may need antibiotics before some dental or medical procedures. This is to prevent infections.

Prevention

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

Revisions

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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