What Is The Heart?

“Go to your bosom
Knock there and ask your heart
What it doth know”

William Shakespeare.

 

The heart is the symbol of life. It is also a symbol of love. The heart also stands for courage – we talk about being lion-hearted. It also indicates joy and happiness – as in being a hearty soul.

In medical terms, the heart is the pump that supplies blood and provides energy to the rest of the body. We’ll take a quick look at how the heart is structured. This small, yet powerful, muscular pump has always fascinated me, and I hope some of this amazement will be transferred to you too!

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The Heart – An Introduction

Welcome to the virtual ‘Heart School’ The heart is a fascinating organ. From the moment it begins beating, until it finally stops, the human heart works without a break. In a life-span of seventy years, the heart beats more¬†than two and a half BILLION times,¬†without ever pausing to rest. And as it beats, it preserves … Read more

Truncus Arteriosus

What is Truncus Arteriosus ?

Truncus arteriosus is a rare complex birth defect of the heart in which only one artery leaves the heart, instead of the normal pattern where two great arteries – the aorta and the pulmonary artery – carry blood away from the heart.

In truncus arteriosus, a single large arterial trunk arises in common from both the right and left ventricles. It then divides into the aorta and pulmonary artery, after first giving off coronary artery branches.

The method of branching allows the classification of truncus arteriosus into three types.

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Single Ventricle

What is the heart defect called Single Ventricle ?

While the normal heart has two ventricles, in some birth defects, one of these ventricles may be absent or poorly developed. This condition is called Single Ventricle or Univentricular heart.

The ventricular structure may resemble the normal left ventricle or the normal right ventricle. Sometimes, it resembles neither, and this is called Indeterminate ventricle morphology.

In a single ventricle heart, there are two normal atria – right and left. These open into the ventricle through an atrio-ventricular (AV) valve. There might be
two AV valves, both opening into the ventricle – a condition called Double Inlet Ventricle – or one AV valve only, with the other one being absent (Atresia)

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Tricuspid Atresia – TA

Tricuspid atresia and the Fontan principle are rather complex congenital heart defects. So if you can’t figure out the condition even after reading this article, please understand that this anomaly is so complex that even cardiologists have trouble understanding its repair.

So if you don’t, console yourself that you are in distinguished company!

What is tricuspid atresia ?

Triscupid Atresia is a condition where the Tricuspid Valve, which guards the junction between the right atrium and the right ventricle, is either absent or is imperforate – that is, it does not have an opening to allow blood flow across it. There are many ways the valve can be imperforate – the leaflets of the valve may be formed but tightly stuck to each other, or may not be formed at all, with muscle tissue of the heart forming a wall where the valve should have been.

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Pulmonary Stenosis – PS

Pulmonary Stenosis (PS) is one of the simpler abnormalities of the heart. But even this requires some basic knowledge about the structure of the heart.

What is Pulmonary Stenosis ?

The word “pulmonary” denotes “to do with the lungs”.

The pulmonary valve is located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery. It regulates blood flow into the lungs, and prevents blood from leaking back into the right ventricle.

Sometimes, this pulmonary valve is extremely narrow, and blocks the smooth flow of blood into the lungs. This condition is called Pulmonary Stenosis – or PS, in short.

At other times, the pulmonary valve itself is normal, but there is an obstruction to blood flow from the right ventricle at other levels. For instance, there may be abnormal bundles of muscle below the pulmonary valve which obstruct flow. This is called “sub-valvular” pulmonary stenosis.

Or occasionally, there may be a narrowing of the pulmonary artery or its branches above the pulmonary valve. This is called “supra-valvular” pulmonary stenosis.

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Transposition of Great Arteries – TGA

I hope you still remember about the great arteries of the body, and the chambers of the heart from which they arise. In this article, we will discuss the condition called Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA) in which these great vessels are inter-changed in position.

Here’s what you’ll learn about:

  • What is Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA) ?
  • What happens in TGA ?
  • What if TGA is left untreated ?
  • When should TGA be treated ?
  • What are the treatment options ?
  • Initial stabilization
  • Palliative treatment
  • Definitive treatment
  • Arterial Switch Operation (ASO)
  • Atrial Switch Procedures
  • Some Special Circumstances

What is Transposition of the Great Arteries?

The two “great” arteries of the body are the aorta and the pulmonary artery. The aorta comes out of the left ventricle, and carries pure blood to the rest of the body. The pulmonary artery arises from the right ventricle and carries impure blood from the veins into the lungs for oxygenation.

Transposition of the Great Arteries – TGA, for short – as the name implies, means the two arteries are “transposed”. That is, the aorta arises from the right ventricle, and the pulmonary artery from the left ventricle.

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Tetralogy of Fallot – ToF

We’re now getting to a more complicated condition called the Tetralogy of Fallot – or ToF, for short. The diseases discussed until now had just one abnormality in the heart – Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) or Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) or Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).

As the name tetralogy implies, there are FOUR abnormalities combined together in this complex heart defect. ToF is also commonly called the “blue-baby” disease.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What are the components of ToF?
  • Why is it called “Blue Baby Disease”?
  • What exactly happens in ToF?
  • What is a “cyanotic spell”?
  • What happens if ToF is left uncorrected?
  • What are the surgical options?
  • How is a single stage intra-cardiac repair done?
  • Variations in ToF needing modified repair
  • What is an “outflow patch”?
  • When is an intracardiac repair NOT possible?
  • What are the palliative operations for ToF?
  • The Blalock-Taussig shunt
  • Other systemic-pulmonary shunt procedures
  • What is the outcome after a total correction operation?
  • What is the future course after a shunt procedure?

Basics of Tetralogy of Fallot

What are the four components of ToF ?

1. The first is a Ventricular Septal Defect – or VSD.

2. Next is a narrowing of the Pulmonary Valve, which guards the junction of the right ventricle with the pulmonary artery. This narrowing is called Pulmonary Stenosis (PS).

3. The third feature is a thickening of the wall of the right ventricle (RV). This increases the strength of the right ventricle and helps it pump blood more forcibly. This thickening is called RV Hypertrophy.

4. And the last component is an over-riding aorta.

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