Health Library

Coronary Artery Fistula—Child

Definition

Coronary artery fistula is an abnormal connection between the coronary artery and the heart or other blood vessels. Coronary arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart tissue. A small fistula will not affect this blood flow, but larger fistulas may cause problems.

The Coronary Arteries
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Causes

This condition is typically a congenital defect. This means that the baby is born with it. It is not known exactly why the fistula develops.

Some fistulas can also occur after birth due to infection, injury, or heart surgery.

Risk Factors

For many congenital heart defects, the risk factors are unclear.

Symptoms

Children with this condition usually do not have any symptoms.

A large fistula may cause chest pain or an abnormal pulses but this is rare. If your child has any of these symptoms, get medical care right away. In severe cases, this condition can lead to a heart attack or a ruptured fistula.

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A coronary artery fistula may be suspected if a heart murmur is heard during a physical exam. To confirm the diagnosis and determine the size and effect of the fistula the doctor may order one or more of the following tests:

Treatment

Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Options include:

Surgery

Surgeries that may be done to treat this condition include:

  • Coil embolization —A special coil is passed through blood vessels in the arms or legs to the heart. The coil can close off the abnormal vessel.
  • Open heart surgery—to close the defect with stitches.

Lifelong Monitoring

Your child will have regular exams by a heart doctor. This is done to prevent major complications.

Prevention

Preventing heart defects may not always be possible. However, getting regular prenatal care is always important.

Resources

American Family Physician
http://www.aafp.org/
American Heart Association
http://www.americanheart.org/

Canadian Resources

Canadian Cardiovascular Society
http://www.ccs.ca/
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/

References

Coronary artery fistula. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site1748/mainpageS1748P1.html. Accessed June 21, 2013.
Coronary artery fistula. Johns Hopkins University, Cove Point Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pted.org/?id=coronaryfistula1. Accessed June 21, 2013.