Vascular ring: Overview, Causes

Definition

Vascular ring is an abnormal formation of the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. It is a congenital problem, which means it is present at birth.

See also: Double aortic arch

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Vascular ring is rare. It accounts for less than 1% of all congenital heart problems. The condition occurs as often in males as females. Some infants with vascular ring also have another congenital heart problem.

Vascular ring occurs very early in the baby’s development in the womb. Normally, the aorta develops from one of several curved pieces of tissue (arches). The body breaks down some of the remaining arches, while others form into arteries. Some arteries that should break down do not; this forms vascular rings.

With vascular ring, some of the arches and vessels that should have changed into arteries or disappeared are still present when the baby is born. These arches form a ring of blood vessels, which encircles and presses down on the windpipe (trachea) and esophagus.

Several different types of vascular ring exist. In some types, the vascular ring only partially encircles the trachea and esophagus, but it still can cause symptoms.

Pictures & Images

Vascular ringVascular ring is a term used to describe a number of abnormal formations of the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body, or of the pulmonary artery. The abnormal vessel(s) forms a ring, which encircles and may press down on the windpipe (trachea) or the esophagus. The additional pressure on the windpipe (trachea) and esophagus can lead to breathing and swallowing problems.


Review Date : 6/1/2009
Reviewed By : Jeffrey Heit, MD, Internist with special emphasis on preventive health, fitness and nutrition, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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