ALCAPA is a rare congenital heart condition that occurs when the left coronary artery develops abnormally. In ALCAPA, instead of connecting to the aorta, the left coronary artery connects to the pulmonary artery. Because of this change, the blood that goes to the left side of the heart does not have oxygen. The heart grows weak and must be repaired as soon as possible.

The cause of ALCAPA is mainly unknown, but symptoms show in the first few months. 

These symptoms may include:

  • excessive crying during eating
  • extended sleepiness
  • increased heartbeat and rapid breathing
  • pale skin 
  • poor feeding

Diagnosing ALCAPA

Your baby's cardiologist will perform a comprehensive physical exam; an EKG, which looks at the structure of the heart; an echocardiogram, which looks at the electrical rhythm of the heart; and a chest X-ray to determine if your baby has ALCAPA.

Additional tests that may be needed include a cardiac catheterization, cardiac MRI or a CT scan of your baby's heart.

Care Providers

Our team of specialists will care for your child if ALCAPA has been diagnosed. The University of Maryland Children's Heart Program team includes a pediatric cardiac surgeon, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric and neonatal intensive care doctors and nurses, pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists, cardiac operating room staff, cardiac nurses and other care providers experienced in ALCAPA treatment.  

Treating ALCAPA

The only treatment for ALCAPA is open heart surgery and should be done as soon as possible when your child is diagnosed. ALCAPA surgery 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. Future monitoring of ALCAPA will continue into adulthood to make sure the heart is working properly and is healthy.

Contact Us

  • To learn more about Maternal Fetal Heart care, please call 410-328-3865.
  • To make an appointment with a Children's Heart Program physician, please call 410-328-4348.
US News World Report Cardiology badge