When the left coronary artery develops abnormally, a very rare heart defect is called ALCAPA. With ALCAPA, the left coronary artery connects to the pulmonary artery instead of the aorta. This does not send oxygen-rich blood to the heart efficiently and can lead to weakening of the heart and must be repaired as soon as possible.

As with all heart defects, the cause of ALCAPA mainly unknown. Symptoms your baby may show include rapid breathing, poor feeding, pale skin and increased sleepiness.

Your child's cardiologist will perform a comprehensive physical exam, an EKG, an echocardiogram, and a chest X-Ray to diagnosis if your child has ALCAPA. Additional tests that may be needed for your child may include a cardiac catheterization, cardiac MRI, or a CT scan of your child's heart.

Surgery for ALCAPA

The only treatment for ALCAPA is open heart surgery for your child and should be done as soon as possible when your child is diagnosed with ALCAPA.

The surgical repair for ALCAPA includes moving the coronary artery from the pulmonary artery to the aorta. Your surgeon will determine the best technique to perform this surgery.

Close follow-up with a pediatric cardiologist and medications are needed in the first few weeks to months and possibly years after surgery. After the child enters into adulthood, they will be transferred to an adult cardiologist and will have frequent medical appointments to make sure their heart is working properly and is healthy.

To make an appointment with a Children's Heart Program physician, please call 410-328-4348.

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