Cyanotic heart disease

Right-to-left cardiac shunt; Right-to-left circulatory shunt

Cyanotic heart disease refers to a group of many different heart defects that are present at birth (congenital). They result in a low blood oxygen level. Cyanosis refers to a bluish color of the skin and mucous membranes.

Heart, section through the middle

The interior of the heart is composed of valves, chambers, and associated vessels.

Cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is used to study the various functions of the heart. Using different techniques, the coronary arteries can be viewed by injecting dye or opened using balloon angioplasty. The oxygen concentration can be measured across the valves and walls (septa) of the heart and pressures within each chamber of the heart and across the valves can be measured. The technique can even be performed in small, newborn infants.

Heart, front view

The external structures of the heart include the ventricles, atria, arteries and veins. Arteries carry blood away from the heart while veins carry blood into the heart. The vessels colored blue indicate the transport of blood with relatively low content of oxygen and high content of carbon dioxide. The vessels colored red indicate the transport of blood with relatively high content of oxygen and low content of carbon dioxide.

Tetralogy of Fallot

Tetralogy of Fallot is a birth defect of the heart consisting of four abnormalities that results in insufficiently oxygenated blood pumped to the body. It is classified as a cyanotic heart defect because the condition leads to cyanosis, a bluish-purple coloration to the skin, and shortness of breath due to low oxygen levels in the blood. Surgery to repair the defects in the heart is usually performed between 3 and 5 years old. In more severe forms, surgery may be indicated earlier. In most cases the heart can be surgically corrected and the outcome is good.


Clubbing may result from chronic low blood-oxygen levels. This can be seen with cystic fibrosis, congenital cyanotic heart disease, and several other diseases. The tips of the fingers enlarge and the nails become extremely curved from front to back.

Cyanotic heart disease

Cyanotic heart disease is a congenital heart defect which results in low oxygen levels in the blood and causes the child's lips, fingers, and toes to look blue (cyanosis).



Exams and Tests


Outlook (Prognosis)

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional