An interrupted aortic arch refers to a baby’s aorta being divided, or interrupted, instead of being a continuous large artery coming off the left ventricle.
Babies born with an interrupted aortic arch can become extremely sick, especially when their patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) closes. Keeping the PDA open will supply the body with blood from the pulmonary artery, but this blood will be deoxygenated because it has not yet reached the lungs. Therefore, surgery to repair an interrupted aortic arch will be required soon after a baby is born with this congenital heart disease.
Babies who have an interrupted arch usually also have another congenital heart defect called a ventricular septal defect (VSD). Cardiothoracic surgeons will reconnect the aortic arch to create a continuous “tube” and close the VSD.
The specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, repair interrupted aortic arches in the first week of life.
Norton Children’s Heart Institute is the leading provider of pediatric heart care in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained cardiothoracic surgeons have the experience, skill and training to perform this complex surgery.
Norton Children’s Heart Institute has a network of remote diagnostic and treatment services in Kentucky and Southern Indiana..
What Happens in an Interrupted Aortic Arch Repair?
A pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon will stitch the top part of the aortic arch and the descending aorta together to create one continuous blood vessel.
- The two ends of the aorta are sewn together.
- The patent ductus arteriosus is tied off.
- The surgeon may place a patch over the ventricular septal defect. As the child grows, heart tissue will grow over the patch and the stitches.
Your child may need additional surgeries to address other heart issues. The Norton Children’s Heart Institute team will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan.
Interrupted Aortic Arch Repair Complications and After Care
Your child will need lifelong care with a cardiologist to look for complications over time. It is possible that the surgery site may narrow (stenosis) over time, and a balloon angioplasty may be needed to correct it. Some patients also may need surgery again to fix the stenosis.
Children who have had an interrupted aortic arch repair have a higher risk for an infection called subacute bacterial endocarditis. They may need to take antibiotics before dental work or other medical procedures to help prevent this infection of the lining of the heart (endocardium).
If your child has had an interrupted aortic arch repair, ask your pediatric cardiologist about physical activity and if there are any limitations.