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Redmond Regional Medical Center

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. When the aorta and nearby large vessels form in abnormal positions, the trachea and esophagus can become constricted by the “ring” formed by these abnormal vessels. Examples of this type of defect include:

  • Double aortic arch
  • Right aortic arch

While vascular ring may be detected in infancy, it is often discovered later in life.

Heart and Aortic Arch
BP00015 96472 1 aorta.jpg
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Vascular ring is present at birth. It is not known exactly why the heart does not develop normally.

Risk Factors

Specific risk factors for vascular ring are not known.


Symptoms vary and can range from mild to severe. They may include:

  • Trouble breathing (wheezing, coughing, noisy breathing)
  • Lung infections
  • Poor feeding of solid food (vomiting or choking)
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Acid reflux

These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. If your child has any of these, tell the doctor right away.


Your doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Imaging tests evaluate the heart and other structures. These may include:

An electrocardiogram (EKG) is used to measure the heart's electrical activity.


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:


The goal of surgery is to divide the vascular ring and relieve compression on the trachea and esophagus. This surgery may even be done if your child has minor symptoms.

Other Treatments

Before surgery, the doctor will treat your child’s symptoms. For example, the doctor will make sure that your child gets proper nutrition if he has swallowing problems. If your child has a bacterial respiratory infection, he will be treated with antibiotics.

Lifelong Monitoring

Your child will have regular exams from a heart specialist.


There is no way to prevent the formation of a vascular ring. Getting appropriate prenatal care is always important.

Revision Information

  • American Heart Association

  • Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics

  • Canadian Cardiovascular Society

  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

  • Vascular ring in children. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: Accessed June 16, 2015.

  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Vascular rings. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website. Available at: Updated November 2012. Accessed June 16, 2015.

  • Johns Hopkins Children's Center website. Vascular ring. Johns Hopkins University, Cove Point Foundation website. Available at: Accessed June 16, 2015.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Redmond Regional Medical Center does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.