Definition

Double aortic arch is a type of vascular ring heart defect. A large artery called the aorta branches into right and left tubes, instead of just being one large tube. The two tubes can circle around and press the airways and the tube that brings food from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus).

Heart Chambers and Valves
heart anatomy

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Blood Flow Through the Heart

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Double aortic arch is a birth defect. The cause is not known.

Risk Factors

Risk factors are not well known.

Symptoms

A baby may have:

  • Problems breathing
  • Poor feeding, such as choking
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Vomiting

Diagnosis

It may be noticed in infancy, but it is often found later.

The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Pictures may be taken of your child’s body. This can be done with:

Treatment

Surgery can be done to tie off and close one of the extra branches. Symptoms may get better right away or over time.

Children will need lifelong monitoring by a doctor who treats the heart.

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.

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:

Double aortic arch. Cove Point Foundation—Johns Hopkins University website. Available at: http://www.pted.org/?id=doubleaortic1. Accessed November 4, 2020.

Licari A, Manca E, et al. Congenital vascular rings: a clinical challenge for the pediatrician. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2015 May;50(5):511-524.

Vascular rings and slings. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vascular-rings-and-slings. Accessed November 4, 2020.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 11/4/2020