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Congenital Heart Conditions and Treatment

  • Congenital heart conditions

    Dr. Andrew Leventhal talks with a co-worker.
    Dr. Andrew Leventhal talks with a co-worker.

    Congenital heart disease is a structural heart problem that a person is born with. The Kentucky Adult Congenital Heart team at UK specializes in treating adult patients with congenital heart defects, including:

    • Heart valve stenosis or regurgitation: This condition occurs when the heart valves narrow (stenosis) or experience a backflow of blood into the upper chambers (regurgitation).
    • Atrial septal defect (ASD), patent foramen ovale (PFO), ventricular septal defect (VSD) or patent ductus arteriosus (PDA): These heart defects occur when there is a hole between the wall of two heart chambers that doesn’t close up after birth as it typically does, which allows blood to leak from one chamber to the other.
    • Bicuspid aortic valve (BAV): A BAV occurs when the aortic valve has only two leaflets instead of three. This condition can cause blood to leak back into the heart or make the heart work harder than normal to get blood through the aortic valve.
    • Coarctation of the aorta: This condition causes a narrowed aorta, forcing the heart to pump harder to keep blood flowing through the artery.
    • Subaortic stenosis: This defect involves an obstruction or narrowing of the heart’s lower left chamber.
    • Transposition of the great arteries: In a person with this life-threatening defect, the position of their heart’s two main arteries is reversed, impacting the flow of blood through the heart, lung and rest of the body. We also treat congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (ccTGA or L-TGA), in which the lower half of the heart is reversed.
    • Ebstein anomaly: This birth defect involves the tricuspid valve having abnormally formed leaflets and being positioned lower than normal in the right ventricle of the heart. This can cause blood to leak back through the valve or lead to heart enlargement or failure.
    • Single ventricle defects: A person with this defect was born with only one pumping heart chamber. We also treat adults patients who have undergone the Fontan procedure to correct this issue.
    • Tetralogy of Fallot: This rare congenital heart defect occurs when all four chambers of the heart are combined, causing oxygen-low blood to flow from the heart to the rest of the body.
    • Truncus arteriosus: In this condition, the right and left ventricles have a single blood vessel instead of the two normal vessels: the pulmonary artery and aorta.
    • Childhood cardiac surgery: We also treat adults who underwent cardiac surgery as children.

    For patients who develop non-congenital structural heart issues later in life, UK’s Structural Heart Program offers minimally invasive, leading-edge treatment and management.

  • Congenital heart treatment

    In the KACH program at UK HealthCare, most congenital heart disease can be treated with minimally invasive catheter-based procedures rather than open-heart surgery. During these procedures, physicians use tiny instruments to make small incisions and repair heart defects from inside the blood vessels. This means patients experience shorter recovery times and much less pain than with open-heart surgery.

    The KACH team is highly experienced in many catheter-based procedures including:

    • Diagnostic/interventional catheterization for complex congenital heart disease: Through this routine and minimally invasive procedure, we are able to assess heart pressures and address narrowing of blood vessels.
    • PFO, ASD, VSD and PDA closures: These procedures close up holes that occur between the heart’s chambers, stopping blood from leaking and improving blood flow.
    • Stenting of coarctation of the aorta: In this procedure, we insert a stent into the narrowed aorta to improve efficient blood flow.
    • Balloon dilation of cardiac valves: In this procedure, we insert a deflated balloon through a catheter into the narrowed valve of the heart. Once it’s in place, we inflate the balloon, which enlarges the heart valve.
    • Transcatheter replacement of the pulmonary valve (and other cardiac valves): During this minimally invasive procedure similar to cardiac catherization, we repair and/or replace the pulmonary valve. We access the heart through the femoral artery in the groin rather performing invasive open-heart surgery. This means patients experience a much faster recovery time and a shorter hospital stay.
    • Percutaneous management of vascular malformations: We repair blood vessel abnormalities using this minimally invasive technique, similar to a heart catheterization procedure.