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Ebstein's Anomaly -- Child

(Ebstein’s Malformation—Child; Anomaly, Ebstein’s—Child; Malformation, Ebstein’s—Child)


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.
Heart Chambers and Valves
heart anatomy
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Blood Flow Through the Heart
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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.

Risk Factors

Specific risk factors for Ebstein’s anomaly are not clear. Two possible risk factors include:
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Environmental exposure


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
  • Palpitations or skipped beats
  • Decreased energy
  • Failure-to-thrive or gain weight
  • Shortness of breath


The doctor will ask 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:


Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Often, surgery is needed right away. Treatment options include:


The doctor may prescribe medicines to:
  • Help restore normal heart rhythms
  • Reduce fluid in the body
  • Improve cardiac function


Depending on your child’s condition, the doctor may recommend:
  • Surgery—Surgery may be needed to repair or replace the tricuspid valve. This will reduce leaking.
  • Ablation procedure—This procedure may be done if your child is having abnormal heart rhythms. A catheter is threaded up to the heart. Abnormal tissue is destroyed to stop the abnormal rhythms.

Lifelong Monitoring

Your child will have regular exams from a heart specialist. In some cases, your child may need antibiotics before some dental or medical procedures. This is to prevent infections.


There is no way to prevent this condition. Getting prenatal care is always important.


Ebstein’s Anomaly Foundation

Ebstein’s Society


Canadian Cardiovascular Society

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada


Ebstein’s anomaly. American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated November 20, 2012. Accessed July 19, 2013.

Ebstein’s anomaly. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website. Available at: Updated July 2009. Accessed July 19, 2013.

Ebstein’s anomaly. Ebstein’s Society website. Available at: Accessed July 19, 2013.

Ebstein anomaly of the tricuspid valve. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated March 29, 2012. Accessed July 19, 2013.

Symptoms and diagnosis of congenital heart defects. American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated February 15, 2013. Accessed July 19, 2013.

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