Transposition of the great arteries is a rare congenital heart defect involving an abnormal arrangement of the aorta and the pulmonary arteries (the two major arteries carrying blood away from the heart). The aorta rises from the right ventricle instead of the left, and the pulmonary artery rises from the left ventricle instead of the right. This condition is recognized early, often at birth. The primary symptom is cyanosis (bluish coloration of the skin due to low oxygen levels in the blood). Infants who display this symptom are sometimes referred to as blue babies. Surgical treatment is required within the first weeks of life.
Anyone who has ever been diagnosed with and/or treated for transposition of the great arteries should have lifelong care from a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart defects. The Ohio State University Medical Center provides this care from birth to adulthood. We partner with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to provide the resources necessary for the care of adult congenital cardiac patients through the Columbus Ohio Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program (COACH).
The COACH program focuses on:
- Adults with congenital heart disease (CHD)
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Cardiovascular connective tissue disorders
- Pregnancy in women with heart disease
- Transition of adolescents with CHD into adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) care
- Training of future ACHD providers
Why Choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?
Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center offers a team approach to CHD, which means each patient is evaluated by an Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) specialist, and when appropriate, a cardiac surgeon, an imaging specialist and an interventional cardiologist with training in CHD. This integrated approach means that each patient’s disease is treated individually, with that particular patient’s needs, and physical condition, in mind.
What Is Transposition of the Great Arteries?
In transposition of the great arteries, the two main arteries (aorta and pulmonary artery) that leave the heart are transposed, altering how blood circulates through the body. Blood flowing from the heart to the rest of the body is short of oxygen, which impairs the body’s functioning.
In addition to cyanosis (bluish coloration of the skin due to low oxygen levels in the blood), symptoms include shortness of breath, lack of appetite and failure to gain weight.
Transposition of the great arteries should be treated promptly to avoid complications. Even with treatment, patients diagnosed with this condition remain at risk for complications throughout adulthood. Therefore, regular lifelong care by a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart conditions is important.
What Causes Transposition of the Great Arteries?
Transposition of the great arteries occurs during fetal development. In most cases, the cause is unknown.
Risk factors may include:
- Poor maternal nutrition
- Older maternal age
- Maternal alcoholism
- Maternal diabetes
- A parent with the condition or another congenital heart defect
If your family has a history of congenital heart defects, you may want to consider consulting with a genetic counselor, who may recommend genetic testing.