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Double Outlet Right Ventricle

Double outlet right ventricle (DORV) is a rare heart malformation. It’s when the heart and the main vessels leaving the heart don’t develop the way they should. The problem is present from birth (congenital).

In a normal heart, blood flows from the right atrium into the right ventricle and from the left atrium into the left ventricle. A wall between the heart’s chambers stops blood from flowing between the left and the right sides of the heart. Blood leaves the left side of the heart through the aorta to the rest of the body. It leaves the right side of the heart through the pulmonary artery to the lungs.

In a child with DORV, both the pulmonary artery and the aorta are connected to the same chamber, the right ventricle. These great arteries may be joined either partly or fully. There is also almost always an opening in the wall between the left and right ventricles. This hole is called a ventricular septal defect.

This defect lets blood with oxygen mix with blood that has little oxygen. A child with DORV is not able to get enough oxygen-rich blood.

Much of the time DORV occurs with other heart malformations.

What causes DORV?

DORV is rare. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes it. Sometimes DORV is caused by problems with a child’s genes. It is linked to a number of genetic syndromes. Two of these are trisomy 13 and Robinow syndrome. But in most cases, the cause of DORV is unknown.

Some things in the environment can lead to a heart defect if a mother is exposed to them when she is pregnant. Mothers may be able to lower their child’s risk for DOVR by avoiding:

  • Radiation from dental or medical procedures

  • Tobacco and alcohol

  • Exposure to infections

  • Certain medicines, such as those used for asthma or skin problems

Symptoms of DORV

The symptoms of DORV may vary based on the exact heart problem involved. Symptoms are often present at birth. Or they may not appear until later. They can include:

  • Bluish color or pale skin

  • Fast breathing or problems breathing

  • Tiring easily, especially when feeding

  • Failure to gain weight normally

  • Swelling in the legs or abdomen

  • Sleepiness or unresponsiveness

Diagnosing DORV

Healthcare providers may spot DORV in a fetus, before the birth of the baby. After a baby is born, diagnosis starts with a health history and physical exam. Certain tests can also help. These include:

  • Echocardiogram to see the structure of the heart and the blood flow through the heart

  • Electrocardiogram to study the heart’s rhythm

  • Chest X-ray to look at size of the heart and lungs

  • Cardiac MRI to look at the structure of the heart

  • Cardiac catheterization to learn more about the pressures in the different chambers of the heart and in the lungs

  • Blood tests to look for oxygen levels in the blood or other things

Treatment for DORV

Surgery can treat DORV. A surgeon can fix blood flow so that it moves the right way from the left ventricle to the aorta and from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery. Your child may need more than one surgery. Early treatment can lower the chance of later problems, such as heart failure and infection of the heart valves.

Some children with DORV also need medicine. The kind of medicine depends on the type of DORV and how serious the symptoms are. Medicine may include:

  • Water pills (diuretics) to reduce swelling

  • ACE inhibitors or digoxin to make it easier for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body

  • Beta-blockers to reduce how hard the heart pumps

  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants) to prevent blood clots

  • Antibiotics before certain medical and dental procedures to prevent infection

Most children with DORV go on to lead normal and active lives. But they will need to see a heart specialist regularly. Some may need more surgery as adults.

 

When to call the healthcare provider

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if your child has a hard time breathing or other severe symptoms.

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.