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"Single ventricle defects encompass a large spectrum of disorders, most of which require a series of staged surgeries. At Children's we treat a large volume of these and many other congenital heart problems, so we have a deep expertise."
--David W. Brown, MD, Boston Children's Hospital Department of Cardiology
If your infant or child has been diagnosed with a single ventricle defect, an understanding of the condition will help you to cope with this very rare congenital (present at birth) heart defect.
“Single ventricle defect” is a general, non-specific term used to describe several congenital heart defects that differ from each other, but that share the same problem: The heart has only one adequate-sized functional pumping chamber (ventricle).
Comparison with normal heart
Normally, the heart has two pumping chambers (ventricles) that serve as the heart's pumping chambers. The right ventricle normally pumps blue blood (without oxygen) out of the heart through the pulmonary artery to the lungs for oxygen, and the left ventricle normally pumps red blood (with oxygen) through the aorta out of the heart to the body.
In one of the single ventricle defects, only one of those pumping chambers is adequately-sized and functional. Additional defects and uniquely complex heart anatomy distinguish one single ventricle defect from another.
Example of single ventricle heart defects.
The experienced surgeons in the Boston Children’s Cardiac Surgery Department understand how distressing the diagnosis of a single ventricle defect can be for parents. You can have peace of mind knowing that our surgeons treat some of the most complex pediatric heart conditions in the world, with overall success rates approaching 98 percent—among the highest in the nation among large pediatric cardiac centers.
We use the following elements to provide the best possible outcomes:
At Boston Children’s, we provide families with a wealth of information, resources, programs and support—before, during and after your child’s treatment. With our compassionate, family-centered approach to expert treatment and care, you and your child are in the best possible hands.
For visual and audio information on some congenital heart defects, visit Boston Children’s cardiovascular Multimedia Library.
Single ventricle defect: Reviewed by David W. Brown, MD
© Boston Children's Hospital, 2011
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