Univentricular Heart | Congenital Condition | MedStar Health

When a single heart chamber is doing the work of two

The term univentricular heart refers to a group of heart conditions present at birth in which one of the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) is smaller, underdeveloped, or missing a valve. In rare cases, one of the ventricles may be missing altogether.

These conditions often are treated within the first few weeks of an infant’s life but require lifelong monitoring by a cardiologist. Our Adult Congenital Heart Center will work closely with you to determine your risks and treatment options as needed.

Some conditions that may fall into the univentricular heart category include:


Your doctor will likely use one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures to monitor your heart function.

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.


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

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology used 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.


Our heart and vascular teams work together and with other specialties to develop and implement individualized plans to improve heart function and minimize complications. Treatment options could include lifestyle modifications, medication, or more advanced treatments.

Structural Heart and Valve Disease Treatments

Structural heart and valve disease treatments address defects or abnormalities with the heart’s muscle or valves with or without surgery.

Heart Surgery

Heart surgery is an option to treat many heart conditions. You may need heart surgery either as a lifesaving procedure or when other treatments haven’t worked.

Additional information

Adult congenital heart center

When you’re born with a heart problem, you may need complex care throughout your life. Our experts tailor this specialized care to your unique needs.


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