Double Aortic Arch—Child

  • Definition

    Double aortic arch is a type of vascular ring heart defect. In a normal heart, the blood flows in from the body to the right atrium, goes into the right ventricle, and then goes to the lungs to pick up fresh oxygen. The blood returns to the left atrium, goes into the left ventricle, and goes out to the rest of the body through a large artery called the aorta.
    With a double aortic arch, the aorta branches into right and left tubes, instead of just being one large tube. The two tubes can circle around and compress the airways and/or esophagus.
    Heart Chambers and Valves
    heart anatomy
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    Blood Flow Through the Heart
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  • Causes

    Double aortic arch is a congenital defect. This means that the baby is born with the condition. It is not known exactly why the heart develops abnormally in some babies.
  • Risk Factors

    Risk factors for developing double aortic arch are not well known.
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Lung infections
    • Poor feeding, including vomiting and choking
    • Trouble swallowing, including choking
    • Vomiting
    • Acid reflux
  • Diagnosis

    While this condition may be detected in infancy, it is often found later.
    Your doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Your child's bodily structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:
    Your child's heart activity may need to be measured. This can be done with an electrocardiogram.
  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:
    Surgery
    If your child is having symptoms like difficulty breathing, surgery will be done. The goal of surgery is to tie off and close one of the extra branches. After this is done, symptoms may improve right away or gradually over time.
    Lifelong Monitoring
    Your child will have regular exams from a heart specialist.
  • Prevention

    There is no known way to prevent double aortic arch. Getting appropriate prenatal care is always important.
  • RESOURCES

    American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.healthychildren.org

    American Heart Association http://www.heart.org

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca

    References

    Double aortic arch. Johns Hopkins University, Cove Point Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pted.org/?id=doubleaortic1. Updated May 16, 2011. Accessed July 19, 2013.

    Vascular ring. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site1942/mainpageS1942P0.html. Accessed July 19, 2013.

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