Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Vascular Ring—Child

Definition

A vascular ring is a defect of the aorta and nearby large vessels. The aorta is the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the body. Sometimes, the aorta and nearby large vessels form in unusual positions. The trachea and esophagus can become constricted by the “ring” formed by these vessels. The defect can be:

  • Double aortic arch
  • Right aortic arch

It may be found when your child is a baby, but it is often found later in life.

Heart and Aortic Arch
BP00015_96472_1_aorta.jpg

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Causes  ^

Vascular ring is present at birth. It is not known why the heart forms this way.

Risk Factors  ^

The risk factors are not known.

Symptoms  ^

Symptoms vary and can range from mild to severe. Your child may have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Lung problems
  • Poor feeding of solid food
  • Trouble swallowing

Diagnosis  ^

You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Pictures may be taken of the heart and other structures. This can be done with:

An electrocardiogram (EKG) is used to measure the heart's electrical activity.

Treatment  ^

Talk with your doctor about the best plan for your child. Your child may need:

Surgery

The goal of surgery is to divide the vascular ring. This will ease pressure on the trachea and esophagus. It may even be done if your child has mild symptoms.

Other Treatments

Before surgery, the doctor will treat your child’s symptoms. Your child will get proper nutrition if there are swallowing problems. If your child has an infection, antibiotics will be given.

Lifelong Monitoring

Your child will have regular exams from a heart specialist.

Prevention  ^

A vascular ring can’t be prevented.

RESOURCES:

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

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

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

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

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

REFERENCES:

Vascular ring in children. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/vascular-ring. Accessed July 2, 2018.

Vascular rings. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/v/rings. Updated June 2015. Accessed July 2, 2018.

Last reviewed June 2018 by Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 7/2/2018