Aortopulmonary (AP) Window

March 7, 2023
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Learning that your child has a rare heart condition such as an aortopulmonary window can be scary for a parent. While this is a serious diagnosis, aortopulmonary window can often be treated, particularly if it is identified early.

We’re happy to share the following guide to help you learn more about this condition and how to care for a child dealing with an aortopulmonary window. Being informed on the causes, treatments, and care options will help you make informed decisions that will help your child and family achieve the best possible outcome.

What is an aortopulmonary window?

An aortopulmonary window is a congenital heart defect where there is a hole, or window, between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. The aorta is the major artery that helps to transport blood from the heart to the body. The pulmonary artery takes blood from the heart to the lungs.

The aorta and pulmonary artery are right next to each other, and when the walls between the two arteries do not fully close during development, it can cause too much blood to pump into the lungs.

Aortopulmonary window is very rare, accounting for less than a percent of all congenital heart defects. About half of all children with this condition have another heart defect, such as tetralogy of Fallot or pulmonary atresia.

Aortopulmonary Window Causes and Risk Factors

Congenital heart defects are present at birth and can result from a random mutation, an inherited genetic trait, or unknown causes. With an aortopulmonary window, the aorta and pulmonary valve do not divide properly while the baby is developing in the womb. In most cases, doctors cannot find a specific cause for this type of heart defect.

Aortopulmonary Window Symptoms

When an aortopulmonary window is present, it can lead to high blood pressure in the lungs, which can cause breathing problems and other symptoms. The most common symptoms of an aortopulmonary window in babies are:

  • Difficulty breathing and rapid breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty eating and lack of weight gain

Aortopulmonary Window Complications

Complications can include an increased risk of respiratory infections, delayed growth, and in most serious cases, lung failure and heart failure.

Diagnosing an Aortopulmonary Window

If symptoms and complications point toward the possibility of an aortopulmonary window or other congenital heart defect, doctors can take many steps to diagnose the condition, including:

  • Discussing specific symptoms
  • Reviewing medical history
  • Listening to the heart through a stethoscope
  • Ordering an Echocardiogram
  • Ordering a chest X-ray
  • Ordering a cardiac MRI
  • Performing cardiac catheterization, which involves inserting small tubes into the blood vessels to directly measure blood pressure in the lungs and heart

Aortopulmonary Window Treatment Options

In most cases, doctors will recommend surgery to close the aortopulmonary window almost immediately after diagnosis. Often, the procedure will be performed when the baby is a newborn. The procedure will involve accessing the heart and patching the hole between the aorta and the pulmonary artery.

Caring for a Child with an Aortopulmonary Window

Although surgery is usually successful, children recovering from surgery to treat an aortopulmonary window can still have considerable care needs. Patients will often need regular follow-up appointments to ensure the heart and lungs continue to work properly.

Children dealing with and recovering from an aortopulmonary window may require activity modification, specialized nutritional needs, and prescription medication. These additional care steps can be essential if another congenital heart defect is present.

There are also steps families often take to help children adjusting to a congenital heart defect enjoy a healthy and happy childhood. For example, support groups and counseling can help manage emotional and behavioral concerns. It is also important to ensure your child has opportunities to be active and socialize with children their age as much as possible.

Pediatric home health care is another increasingly popular form of support for families dealing with congenital heart diseases, including an aortopulmonary window. A dedicated and compassionate home health professional can help your child receive the care and attention they need to thrive. Services can be customized for nearly any situation to meet your family’s specific needs. This can include assisting with medication and nutrition, accompanying children to appointments, so you can run errands or have personal time.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help. We have been enforcing precautionary measures and following the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 to ensure the safety and health of our clients and employees.

Our home health care services offer one-on-one support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.