About UsPatient CareHeart information Center EducationResearchSupport The Texas Heart Institute
Heart Information Center
Transposition of the Great Arteries
  Back to previous page
  En español

Transposition of the Great Arteries
| Share

The "great arteries" are the pulmonary artery and the aorta. Normally, the pulmonary artery is connected to the heart's lower-right chamber (the right ventricle). The right ventricle pumps oxygen-poor blood into the pulmonary artery, which carries that blood into the lungs. The lower-left chamber (the left ventricle) pumps oxygen-rich blood into the aorta, which carries that blood to the rest of the body.

Illustration showing transposition of the great arteries.In transposition of the great arteries, the normal position of the arteries is reversed. The aorta comes out of the right ventricle (instead of the left ventricle), and the pulmonary artery comes out of the left ventricle (instead of the right ventricle).

This means that the right ventricle pumps blood to the body and the left ventricle pumps blood to the lungs. The problem with this set-up is that oxygen-rich blood returns to the lungs while oxygen-poor blood gets carried to the rest of the body.

The only way for oxygen-rich blood to reach the body is through another defect that connects the two routes. An atrial septal defect allows the exchange of blood between the two atria, a ventricular septal defect allows the exchange of blood between the two ventricles, and a patent ductus arteriosus connects the pulmonary artery and the aorta.

How is it treated?

A newborn baby may be given medicine called prostaglandin to keep the ductus arteriosus open. The ductus normally begins to close soon after birth, but keeping it open will allow some oxygen-rich blood to reach the body.

If the baby is not born with another defect that lets some oxygen-rich blood move through the body, doctors will actually create a defect called an atrial septal defect. In a procedure called balloon septostomy, a balloon-tipped catheter is used to create a hole in the wall that separates the right and left atria.

The medicines and the balloon septostomy are only short-term solutions, but they allow the body to get some oxygen-rich blood until surgery can be performed to correct the transposition.

The most common surgery for transposition of the great arteries can be performed within the first month of life. It is called an arterial switch. As the name suggests, the surgery reverses the positions of the arteries, so that the pulmonary artery is connected to the right ventricle, and the aorta is connected to the left ventricle.

See also on this site: Congenital Heart Disease

See on other sites:

Transposition of the great vessels

American Heart Association
l-Transposition of the great arteries

d-Transposition of the great arteries

Texas Adult Congenital Heart Center (TACH) program 
https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/congenital-heart enables patients with congenital heart disease to receive a seamless continuation of care from birth to old age. 

Updated December 2013
Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center
Through this community outreach program, staff members of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) provide educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not the intention of THI to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and THI urges you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your questions.
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Subscribe to us on YouTube Find Us on Flicikr Follow Us on Pinterest Add us on Google+

Please contact our Webmaster with questions or comments.
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
© Copyright 1996-2014 Texas Heart Institute.
All rights reserved.
This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. U.S. NEWS America's Best Hospitals 2013-14