Q: What is ALCAPA?


When the left coronary artery develops abnormally, a very rare heart defect is called ALCAPA. With ALCAPA, the left coronary artery connects to the pulmonary artery instead of the aorta. This does not send oxygen-rich blood to the heart efficiently and can lead to weakening of the heart and must be repaired as soon as possible.

Read more about ALCAPA

Q: Are there any known causes?


As with all heart defects, the cause of ALCAPA mainly unknown.

Q: What are common symptoms?


Symptoms your baby may show include rapid breathing, poor feeding, pale skin and increased sleepiness.

Q: What kind of testing and diagnostic tools are used to determine diagnosis or disease stage?


Your child’s cardiologist will perform a comprehensive physical exam, an EKG, an echocardiogram, and a chest X-Ray to diagnosis if your child has ALCAPA. Additional tests that may be needed for your child may include a cardiac catheterization, cardiac MRI, or a CT scan of your child’s heart.

Q: What are possible treatment options?


The only treatment for ALCAPA is open heart surgery for your child and should be done as soon as possible when your child is diagnosed with ALCAPA.

View our pediatric cardiac surgery outcomes.

Q: What happens during surgery to treat ALCAPA?


The surgical repair for ALCAPA includes moving the coronary artery from the pulmonary artery to the aorta. Your surgeon will determine the best technique to perform this surgery.

Q: What happens after surgery?


Close follow-up with a pediatric cardiologist and medications are needed in the first few weeks to months and possibly years after surgery. After the child enters into adulthood, they will be transferred to an adult cardiologist and will have frequent medical appointments to make sure their heart is working properly and is healthy.