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Coronary Artery Fistula

  • A coronary artery fistula is an abnormal connection between one of the coronary arteries and a heart chamber or another blood vessel.

    • Coronary artery fistula is a rare condition.
    • Infants who are born with it sometimes also have other heart defects.

  • What is a coronary artery fistula?

    A coronary artery fistula is an abnormal connection between one of the coronary arteries and a heart chamber or another blood vessel. The coronary arteries are blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

    “Fistula” means abnormal connection.

    What causes coronary artery fistula?

    A coronary artery fistula is often congenital, meaning that a child is born with it. It generally occurs when one of the coronary arteries fails to form properly when the baby is developing in the womb. The coronary artery abnormally attaches to one of the chambers of the heart (the atrium or ventricle) or another blood vessel (for example, the pulmonary artery).

    Coronary artery fistula is a rare condition. Infants who are born with it sometimes also have other heart defects.

    What are the symptoms of coronary artery fistula?

    Infants with this condition usually don’t have any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • How is coronary artery fistula diagnosed?

    This condition is usually not diagnosed until later in life. It is usually diagnosed during tests for other heart diseases. However, a doctor may hear a heart murmur that will lead to the diagnosis after further testing.

    Tests to determine the size of the fistula include:

  • Can a coronary artery fistula be fixed?

    A small fistula that's not causing symptoms usually won't need treatment and some small fistulas will close on their own. Often even if they don't close, they will never cause symptoms or need treatment.

    An infant who has a larger fistula may need to have surgery to close the abnormal connection. The surgeon closes the site with a patch or stitches.

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