A rare congenital heart defect that slows blood flow

The normal human heart has four chambers: two upper atria and two lower ventricles. Cor triatriatum is a rare congenital heart defect in which an extra chamber forms above the left atrium. Blood from the pulmonary veins flows into this extra chamber, which slows blood flow from the lungs through the heart.

We partner with the Children’s National Health System to treat adults with congenital heart defects, such as cor triatriatum, throughout their lives in our Adult Congenital Heart Center.

What are the symptoms of cor triatriatum?

Cor triatriatum is often diagnosed during infancy or early childhood. Symptoms depend on the size of the opening between the extra chamber and the left ventricle. Adults who are diagnosed may experience symptoms such as:

  • Bronchitis

  • Difficulty or painful breathing

  • Edema or swelling

  • Heart failure

  • Pneumonia or pulmonary congestion

Tests

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Chest X-ray

Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart, and chest wall. 

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Stress Tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) 

Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.

Treatments

Most patients will require surgery as infants to treat cor triatriatum. Medication or other procedures may be needed later in life to manage symptoms.

Congenital Heart Disease Treatments

Treatments for congenital heart conditions range from atrial septal defect and patent foramen ovale closures to cardiac ablations, heart valve replacements, and heart transplants.

Read our Cardiovascular Performance & Outcomes Booklet

Ask MHVI

Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.