• 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. If a child has this defect, he may also have a hole in the wall between the right and left chambers (ventricles) in the heart.
    Heart Chambers and Valves
    heart anatomy
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    Blood Flow Through the Heart
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    A direct cause is not known. The defect develops in the fifth to seventh week of fetal growth. The child is born with the condition.

    Risk Factors

    Your child may be at increased risk for this condition if he 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 or cool skin
    • Decreased urine output
    This condition can lead to shock and congestive 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
    • Do a physical exam
    Tests may include:
    • Echocardiogram —a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart
    • Chest x-ray —imaging test that uses low amounts of radiation to get a picture of the chest
    • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)—a test that records the heart’s activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
    • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
    • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body


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


    Medicines, like Prostaglandin E1, may 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.
    Other medicines may be given to:
    • 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 is no way to prevent this condition. Getting appropriate prenatal care is always important.


    American Family Physician http://www.aafp.org/

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


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

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


    Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Interrupted aortic arch. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/heart-encyclopedia/anomalies/iaa.htm . Updated July 2009. Accessed July 14, 2010.

    Johns Hopkins University, Cove Point Foundation. Interrupted aortic arch. Johns Hopkins University, Cove Point Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pted.org/?id=interruptedarch3 . Updated April 3, 2009. Accessed July 14, 2010.

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