Interrupted Aortic Arch

Heart with Interrupted Aortic Arch

Note: To view the animation of a heart with an interrupted aortic arch, you need the
latest version of the Adobe Flash Player.


In a child with an Interrupted Aortic Arch, the aorta is not fully developed and is separated into two, unconnected parts where a single arch would normally be formed. This malformation prevents normal blood flow through the aorta and obstructs blood flow to the lower body.

An Interrupted Aortic Arch is often accompanied by a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). Oxygenated blood flows across the VSD to the right ventricle, where it mixes with de-oxygenated and is pumped through the pulmonary artery to the lungs. Initially some of this mixed blood travels to the lower body through a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), shortly after birth this PDA begins to close, thus decreasing circulation to the lower body. Surgical intervention is required to remedy this defect.


What is Normal Cardiac Anatomy?

When your child has a congenital heart defect, there's usually something wrong with the structure of his or her heart's structure.

 
Learn More About Normal Cardiac Anatomy

Heart with Normal Cardiac Anatomy

Note: To view heart animations, you need the latest version of the
Adobe Flash Player.


When your child has a congenital heart defect, there's usually something wrong with the structure of his or her heart's structure.

The heart is composed of four chambers. The two upper chambers, known as atria, collect blood as it flows back to the heart. The two lower chambers, known as ventricles, pump blood with each heartbeat to the two main arteries (the pulmonary artery and the aorta). The septum is the wall that divides the heart into right and left sides. The atrial septum separates the right and left atria; likewise, the ventricular septum separates the two ventricles.

There are four valves that control the flow of blood through the heart. These flap-like structures allow blood to flow in only one direction. The tricuspid and mitral valves, also known as the atrioventricular valves, separate the upper and lower chambers of the heart. The aortic and pulmonary valves, also known as the arterial valves, separate the ventricles from the main arteries. Oxygen-depleted blood returns from the body and drains into the right atrium via the superior and inferior vena cavas. The blood in the right atrium then passes through the tricuspid valve and enters the right ventricle.

Next, the blood passes through the pulmonary valve, enters the pulmonary artery, and travels to the lungs where it is replenished with oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood returns to the heart via the pulmonary veins, draining into the left atrium. The blood in the left atrium passes through the bicuspid, or mitral, valve and enters the left ventricle.

Finally, the oxygen-rich blood flows through the aortic valve into the aorta and out to the rest of the body.