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Vascular rings

Els anells vasculars són alteracions que es produeixen en les grans artèries i que comprimeixen la tràquea o l’esòfag. Aquesta patologia afecta els infants (Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron)

Vascular rings, which mainly affect children, are alterations to the position of the large arteries (aorta) which compress neighbouring structures such as the trachea and oesophagus. This anomaly may result in various disorders. The most common include: double aortic arch, pulmonary sling, and right aortic arch with aberrant left subclavian artery.



Anomalies are difficult to detect in less severe cases as infants may not present any symptoms. However, in most instances the child may have:

  • Bronchitis
  • Frequent colds that do not clear up quickly
  • Breathlessness when doing sport

In the most severe cases, symptoms may appear in the first year of life. There may be difficulty breathing which causes the baby to wheeze or breathe noisily, especially when they cry. If your baby shows this symptom, it is vital to seek advice from experts or professionals who can rule out the presence of vascular rings.



Diagnosis is carried out using tests such as an echocardiogram and a study of the aorta.  Suspicions can also be confirmed with a CT angiogram, which will show the precise distribution of the blood vessels and their relationship to other structures such as the trachea and the oesophagus.


Typical treatment

This anomaly can only be treated through surgery, which is performed without extracorporeal circulation except in the case of pulmonary slings. The procedure frees the compressed structures by repositioning or dividing the blood vessels causing the compression.

A bronchoscopy is performed as standard to assess the trachea and bronchi during surgery, and any changes are observed after the operation.

Following surgery children can lead a normal life.

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