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Vascular Ring—Child

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Vascular Ring—Child


A vascular ring is a defect of the aorta and nearby large vessels. The aorta is the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the body. Sometimes the aorta and nearby large vessels form in unusual places. The trachea and esophagus can become pressed by the ring formed by these vessels. The defect can be:

  • Double aortic arch
  • Right aortic arch

It may be found when a child is a baby, but it is often found later in life.

Heart and Aortic Arch.

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Vascular ring is present at birth. It is not known why the heart forms this way.

Risk Factors

The risk factors for vascular ring are not known.


Symptoms vary and can range from mild to severe. A child may have:

  • Problems breathing
  • Trouble eating solid foods
  • Trouble swallowing


The doctor will ask about the child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Pictures may be taken of the heart and other structures. This can be done with:

An electrocardiogram (EKG) will be done to measure the heart's electrical activity.


Children with symptoms will need surgery. The goal of surgery is to divide the vascular ring. This will ease pressure on the trachea and esophagus.

A heart specialist will need to check on the child as they grow up.


There are no current guidelines to prevent vascular ring.





  • Vascular ring. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions/vascular-ring.
  • Vascular rings. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/v/rings.
  • Vascular rings and slings. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vascular-rings-and-slings.


  • Kari Kuenn, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.