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Heart Chambers and Valves  
heart anatomy

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Blood Flow Through the Heart  

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Definition  

Ebstein’s anomaly is a rare heart defect. In a normal heart, the blood flows in from the body to the right atrium. It then goes into the right ventricle. Next, the blood travels to the lungs through the pulmonary valve. Here, it picks up fresh oxygen. The blood returns to the left atrium and goes into the left ventricle. The blood moves out to the rest of the body.

This defect occurs when the tricuspid valve develops lower than normal in the right ventricle. Also, the valve does not open and close normally. This allows blood to leak in the wrong direction. Ebstein’s anomaly can be mild to severe.

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Causes  

This is a congenital defect. This means that the heart forms incorrectly when the baby is developing in the womb. The baby is born with the condition. It is not known why the heart develops this way in some babies.

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Risk Factors  

Specific risk factors for Ebstein’s anomaly are not clear. Two possible risk factors include:

  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Environmental exposure
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Symptoms  

Symptoms vary depending on how severe the defect is. In some cases, there may not be any symptoms. In other cases, symptoms may include:

  • Swelling in the abdomen and legs
  • Blue or pale skin color
  • Rapid heart beat or skipped heart beats
  • Decreased energy
  • Failure-to-thrive or gain weight
  • Shortness of breath
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Diagnosis  

You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. During the exam, the doctor may detect a heart murmur.

Images may be taken of your child's chest. This can be done with:

Other monitors and tests may be used to measure your baby's heart rhythm and function. This can be done with: