Truncus Arteriosus -- Child

Truncus arteriosus is a defect in the large blood vessels that leave the heart. Normally, two large blood vessels, called the aorta and pulmonary artery carry blood away from the heart. The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The pulmonary artery carries oxygen-poor blood from the heart to the lungs. As the heart develops. a section of these two blood vessels sometimes combine together. It creates one large vessel called the truncus arteriosus. The oxygen-poor and oxygen-rich blood leaving the heart mix in this combined blood vessel. The mixed blood decreases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the body. The defect also includes a large hole in the wall between the lower chambers of the heart.

  • Causes

    Truncus arteriosus is a problem with the development of the heart while the baby is in the womb. It is not known exactly why some hearts develop this way.

  • Definition

    Truncus arteriosus is a defect in the large blood vessels that leave the heart.

    Normally, two large blood vessels, called the aorta and pulmonary artery carry blood away from the heart. The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The pulmonary artery carries oxygen-poor blood from the heart to the lungs. As the heart develops. a section of these two blood vessels sometimes combine together. It creates one large vessel called the truncus arteriosus. The oxygen-poor and oxygen-rich blood leaving the heart mix in this combined blood vessel. The mixed blood decreases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the body.

    The defect also includes a large hole in the wall between the lower chambers of the heart.

    Heart Chambers and Valves
    heart anatomy
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    Blood Flow Through the Heart
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor may suspect a heart problem based on your child's symptoms and heart rate. Blood tests and oxygen saturation tests may be done to assess the levels of oxygen in your child's blood. To confirm the diagnosis and create images of the heart, your doctor may order:

    • Echocardiogram
      —to look at the size, shape, and motion of the heart
    • Chest x-ray
    • Electrocardiogram
      —to assess the electrical activity of the heart
    • Cardiac catheterization
      —to assess the heart and its blood supply

  • Prevention

    It is not always possible to prevent heart defects since the cause is not clear. You can reduce the risk of heart defects by practicing good prenatal care such as:

    • Regular doctor visits to monitor your health and the health of the baby.
    • Eat nutritious food and take prenatal vitamins

    • Avoid alcohol,
      smoking
      , or use drug use during pregnancy
    • Practicing good hygiene and staying away from people who are sick

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase the risk for congenital heart disease may include:


    • Chromosomal disorders such as
      Down syndrome
      or
      DiGeorge syndrome

    • Conditions during pregnancy, such as:


      • Viral infection such as
        rubella
      • Poorly controlled diabetes
      • Alcohol consumption
      • Smoking

      • Taking certain medicines such as
        thalidomide

  • Symptoms

    Low oxygen levels in the body may cause symptoms such as:

    • Blue or pale grayish skin color
    • Fast breathing
    • High blood pressure
    • Irritability
    • Poor feeding/poor weight gain

    The doctor may also detect a fast heart rate during the exam.

  • Treatment


    Early treatment is important to help prevent complications such as
    heart failure
    . Treatment options may include: