Transposition of the Great Arteries is a congenital heart defect. This defect occurs when the two major blood vessels that carry blood out of the heart are transposed, or switched.
When these arteries are switched, they prevent oxygen-rich blood from flowing to the rest of the body. As a result, babies with Transposition of the Great Arteries have lower oxygen levels than normal and may have a bluish tint to their skin.
Transposition of the Great Arteries Treatment: Why Choose Us?
Without corrective heart surgery after birth, Transposition of the Great Arteries is life-threatening. Our high-risk pregnancy specialists at the Fetal Care Center carefully monitor your unborn baby via ultrasounds throughout your pregnancy.
Our pediatric heart specialists from the Fetal Heart Center provide your baby prompt heart care following childbirth. Here, your baby is in exceptionally skilled hands. Our pediatric heart surgery program is rated one of the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report.
About Transposition of the Great Arteries
Transposition of the Great Arteries is a rare birth defect, affecting about 1 out of every 3,300 newborns.
In a healthy heart, the right ventricle, or chamber, pumps blood through the pulmonary artery to the lungs. Blood picks up oxygen in the lungs. The heart’s left side then pumps this oxygen-rich blood through the aorta to the rest of the body.
In babies with Transposition of the Great Arteries, the opposite occurs:
- The aorta incorrectly connects to the heart’s right side. As a result, blood never reaches the lungs to pick up oxygen. The heart sends oxygen-poor blood through the aorta to the rest of the body.
- The pulmonary artery incorrectly connects to the heart’s left ventricle, or chamber. As a result, oxygen-rich blood circulates between the heart and lungs, but never goes to the rest of the body.
Causes of Transposition of the Great Arteries
Transposition of the Great Arteries has no known cause. However, some congenital heart defects may be inherited. Our genetic counselors can help you understand your risk for congenital heart disease in future pregnancies.
Diagnosing Transposition of the Great Arteries
At the Fetal Care Center, our maternal-fetal medicine specialists are present during your ultrasounds. These experts work with our ultrasound technicians to quickly identify heart defects or other health problems in unborn babies.
Your doctor may also order a fetal echocardiogram. This ultrasound imaging test assesses the structure and health of your unborn baby’s heart. Learn more about high-risk pregnancy tests.
Treating Transposition of the Great Arteries
Throughout pregnancy, you undergo regular ultrasounds to check your baby’s heart development. Babies born with Transposition of the Great Arteries must undergo heart surgery soon after birth to switch the arteries to their usual positions. During pregnancy, heart specialists at the Fetal Heart Center discuss this procedure with you.
We recommend delivering at a facility like the Women & Infants Center that has the expertise to care for a high-risk pregnancy and delivery. Our specialists care for newborns with Transposition of the Great Arteries in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
After surgery, your baby receives advanced medical care in the Inpatient Heart Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Most babies with Transposition of the Great Arteries lead active lives after treatment. However, your child needs regular checkups with a pediatric cardiologist, or heart specialist. The Heart Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital provides ongoing care for children born with congenital heart defects.
To make an appointment with a Washington University fetal heart specialist at the Women & Infants Center, call 855.925.0631.