Single ventricle anomalies refer to a category of rare heart conditions that can develop in the growing fetus. In a normal heart, the two ventricles work by collecting blood and pumping it to the lungs or the rest of the body. With this condition, one of the ventricles does not develop properly. The defect can be mild to severe. Other heart problems may be present, as well.
Examples of single ventricle anomalies include:
These anomalies are congenital defects. This means that the baby is born with the condition. The abnormality develops while the baby is forming in the womb. It is not known exactly why the heart develops this way in some babies.
Specific risk factors for single ventricle anomalies are often unclear, but they may include:
Symptoms may include:
The doctor may also detect a heart murmur during the exam.
These symptoms may be due to other conditions. If your child has any of these, talk to the doctor right away.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Often, surgery is needed right away. Treatment options include:
Your child may be given a medicine through a vein in their arm. This medicine, called prostaglandin, can help keep pathways open so blood can get to the lungs to give them oxygen.
The goal of surgery is to:
Depending on the type of defect and how severe it is, there are several surgery options. For example, a shunt may be placed to restore connections between the heart and lungs, as well as the heart and the rest of the body. If there is too much blood flow, a band may be placed around the pulmonary artery. Fontan procedure is another option. This involves a series of surgeries with the goal being to reroute blood travel through the heart and lungs. In other cases, a heart transplant may be needed.
Preventing fetal heart defects may not always be possible, but you can reduce your risk by:
American Family Physician
American Heart Association
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
American Heart Association. How your cardiologist diagnoses heart defects. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=152. Accessed July 6, 2010.
American Heart Association. Single ventricle defects. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/Single-Ventricle-Defects_UCM_307037_Article.jsp. Accessed July 6, 2010.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Single ventricle heart defects. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available at: http://www.chop.edu/service/cardiac-center/heart-conditions/single-ventricle.html#treatment. Updated January 2010. Accessed July 23, 2010.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Single ventricle anomalies and Fontan circulation. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/info/heart/diagnose/sv.htm. Updated March 2010. Accessed July 23, 2010.
Mayo Clinic. Atrioventricular canal defect. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/atrioventricular-canal-defect/DS00745/DSECTION=risk-factors. Accessed July 7, 2010.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.