Pulmonary atresia 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. There, it picks up fresh oxygen. The blood then returns to the left atrium and goes into the left ventricle. The blood moves out to the rest of the body.
With this defect, there is no pulmonary valve in the heart. Blood cannot flow into the pulmonary artery. This is the artery that brings blood to the lungs. Other heart problems, like a small right ventricle, may also be present.
A direct cause is not known. This defect develops while the baby is forming in the womb. The baby is born with the condition.
These factors increase the chance of pulmonary atresia in your child:
Your doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your child's doctor may also detect a heart murmur during the exam.
Images may be taken of your child's chest. This can be done with:
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Some defects may be so severe that they are difficult to treat. Treatment options include:
Medicines, like Prostaglandin E1, will be given to keep a vessel that connects the pulmonary artery and the aorta open. This opening allows some blood to continue to reach the lungs, especially when the ventricular septum is intact. This is a temporary treatment.
Sometimes a shunt can be placed between the aorta and pulmonary artery. This is done to improve blood flow to the lungs.
Several surgeries may be considered depending on:
Open heart surgery aims to:
When the right ventricle is too small to pump blood effectively, other surgeries may be done. These can reroute blood to the lungs.
FamilyDoctor.org - American Academy of Family Physicians
American Heart Association
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Pulmonary atresia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated July 15, 2013. Accessed July 16, 2013.
Pulmonary atresia. Johns Hopkins University, Cove Point Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pted.org/?id=pulmonaryatresia1. Updated May 16, 2011. Accessed July 16, 2013.
Single ventricle defects. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/Single-Ventricle-Defects_UCM_307037_Article.jsp. Updated January 8, 2013. Accessed July 16, 2013.
Last reviewed July 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.