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Understanding Congenital Heart Defects
An integrated approach to anatomy, embryology, clinical imaging, and treatment

Congenital heart defects are the most common serious congenital anomalies and the most likely to cause death in infancy. Yet most health care professionals have a limited understanding of heart defects. Few training programs in pediatric cardiology or adult congenital heart disease can provide exposure to heart specimens, the most efficient and successful method for teaching normal and pathologic cardiac anatomy. Caregivers are unlikely to recognize less common heart defects unless they are thoroughly versed in the broad range of diagnostic possibilities. Knowledge of anatomy by itself is not enough. Health professionals involved in the diagnosis and management of congenital heart defects must understand the correlation between cardiac anatomy and cardiac imaging studies. How cardiac structures are represented by imaging modalities is best understood by direct comparison of heart specimens with imaging studies. The limited availability of heart specimens greatly impedes this learning process. Interventional catheter and surgical treatments are the mainstays of management of heart defects. Selection of the appropriate intervention depends on the ability to infer the specific anatomy from clinical imaging studies and direct observation of the heart during surgery.

We have created this open-access site to make available high-quality video demonstrations of congenital heart defects through a web-based learning tool. Although second best to direct exposure to heart specimens, this site provides a learning opportunity not currently available in most centers and establishes a visual catalogue of the many varieties of congenital heart defects.

Congenital Heart Defect

Congenital Heart Defects Software Overview:

The table of contents lists the congenital defects organized segment by segment beginning with systemic and pulmonary veins and ending with the aortic arch and coronary arteries. This is followed by pericardial abnormalities, tumors of the heart, and cardiomyopathy.

Each defect category includes:
  • a verbal definition
  • a list of synonyms
  • STS, IPCCC and Fyler codes
  • embryological development
  • examples of clinical imaging
  • a visual definition (narrated video of heart specimens)
  • a video of highlights of surgical or interventional treatment
Software Screenshot

The contents of this site are reviewed by a Scientific Committee to ensure accuracy and clinical relevance.

Supported in part by a grant from:


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