• Interrupted Aortic Arch—Child


    An interrupted aortic arch is a rare heart defect. The aortic arch is part of the major blood vessel that helps move blood from the heart to the rest of the body. With this defect, the aortic arch is interrupted or incomplete. Blood cannot flow through it normally. This makes blood flow to the body less efficient. Children with this defect may also have a hole in the wall between the right and left chambers in the heart.
    Heart Chambers and Valves
    heart anatomy
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
    Blood Flow Through the Heart
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    An interrupted aortic arch is present at birth. A direct cause is not known. The defect develops in the fifth to seventh week of fetal growth.

    Risk Factors

    There is an increased risk for this condition if your child also has DiGeorge syndrome. This is a chromosomal abnormality.


    Symptoms typically appear within the first day or two after birth. Many times, the baby will show symptoms soon after birth. Tell your doctor if you notice the following in your infant or child:
    • Weakness
    • Poor feeding
    • Rapid breathing
    • Pale, blue, or cool skin
    • Decreased urine output
    This condition can lead to shock and heart failure. Your child will need emergency care.
    During the exam, the doctor may detect:
    • Fast heart rate
    • Weak pulse
    • Low oxygen levels
    These symptoms may be due to other conditions.


    The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Images may be taken of your child's chest. This can be done with:
    Your child's heart activity may be measured. This can be done with electrocardiogram (EKG).


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


    Certain medications will usually be given to keep some blood flowing through another blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. This allows some blood to get around the interruption in the aorta. This is a temporary treatment.
    Medications may also:
    • Help the heart beat stronger
    • Get rid of extra fluid in the body


    Surgery is needed to correct the defect. Surgery aims to form a connection between the two parts of the aortic arch. The hole in the heart between the ventricles is also closed. The ductus arteriosus is then closed.

    Lifelong Monitoring

    Your child will need to see a heart specialist regularly.


    There are no current guidelines to prevent interrupted aortic arch because the cause is unknown. Getting appropriate prenatal care is always important.


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

    Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.healthychildren.org


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

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


    Interrupted aortic arch. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/i/iaa. Updated November 2012. Accessed July 17, 2013.

    Interrupted aortic arch. Johns Hopkins Children's Center website. Available at: http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/Interrupted-Aortic-Arch.aspx. Updated May 16, 2011. Accessed July 17, 2013.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.