Coronary Artery Fistula—Child
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Coronary Artery Fistula—Child

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In a normal heart, the coronary arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart tissue. The blood is then returned through a coronary vein. With a coronary artery fistula, the artery connects to a wrong part of the heart (eg, the heart chamber or other blood vessels).

The Coronary Arteries

si1902_the coronary arteries

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This condition can be mild to severe. Other heart defects may be present as well.


This condition is typically a congenital defect. This means that the baby is born with it. It is not known exactly why the coronary artery develops abnormally in some babies. It can also occur after birth due to infection, injury, or heart surgery.

Risk Factors

For many congenital heart defects, the risk factors are unclear.


Children with this condition usually do not have any symptoms. Sometimes the condition is noticed by a heart murmur that the doctor hears during a physical exam. Occasionally, other symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Abnormal pulse

If your child has any of these symptoms, get medical care right away. In severe cases, this condition can lead to a heart attack or a ruptured fistula.


The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:

  • Echocardiogram —an imaging test that uses sound waves to look at the size, shape, and motion of the heart
  • Chest x-ray —an imaging test that uses low amounts of radiation to create an image of the chest
  • Electrocardiogram —a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart
  • Cardiac catheterization —a test that uses a catheter (tube) and x-ray machine to assess the heart and its blood supply


Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Options include:


Surgeries that may be done to treat this condition include:

  • Coil embolization —The defect may be closed through a catheterization procedure. A soft metal coil or clamp is placed to close the abnormal vessel.
  • Surgery—Surgery may be done to close the defect using stitches.

Lifelong Monitoring

Your child will have regular exams by a heart doctor.


Preventing heart defects may not always be possible. However, getting regular prenatal care is always important.


American Family Physician

American Heart Association


Canadian Cardiovascular Society

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada


American Heart Association. How your cardiologist diagnoses heart defects. American Heart Association website. Available at: . Accessed July 13, 2010.

Children’s Hospital Boston. Coronary artery fistula. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: . Accessed July 13, 2010.

Johns Hopkins University, Cove Point Foundation. Coronary artery fistula. Johns Hopkins University, Cove Point Foundation website. Available at: . Accessed July 23, 2010.

Last reviewed June 2011 by Kari Kassir, MD

Last updated Updated: 6/6/2011

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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