Pediatric Heart Expert Forum
right aortic arch with possible vascular ring.
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Questions in this forum are answered by pediatric cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and anesthesiologists from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This forum is for questions and support about pediatric heart problems, symptoms and topics such as heart murmurs, palpitations, fainting, chest pain, congenital heart defects (including management and intervention), fetal cardiology, adult congenital cardiology, arrhythmias and pre-participation athletic screening.

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right aortic arch with possible vascular ring.

My son was incidentally found to have a right aortic arch during an echo investigating a heart murmur when he was 3 months old. He was asleep for the hour and a half long echo, the murmur turned out to be innocent. The cardiologist took my son in for a second look on the echo. She was looking to see if he had a vascular ring, but was moving the doppler around his neck. She was unable to see weather he had the vascular ring or not, because be was moving too much. Because of insurance issues, we have been unable to follow up until now, he's 15mths. He has his appointment in a month and I'm terrified. I have been googling non stop, and have read the worst possible stories. The cardiologist told me his heart was "perfect" and had no other problems. So I have a few questions..
What are the chances that he does NOT have the vascular ring, considering his heart has no defects?
Why were they looking in his neck area, is there something they were looking for that they aren't telling me?
I have read that the right aortic arch is a "congenital heart defect" and "a normal variant"..so which is it?
Can the right aortic arch cause any future problems?
IF he does have the vascular ring, and needs the surgery, will he require regular lifelong follow up with a cardiologist after surgery?

And lastly..

Does this kind of "abnormality" raise my risk of having a subsequent child with a CHD?

Thank you in advanced for anyone willing to answer my questions. I've been crying for days, and I'm desperate for good news.
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773637_tn?1327450515
Dear Gmommy,

A vascular ring is a combination of several blood vessels that forms a ring around the trachea and the esophagus. It can partially obstruct one, or both, depending on how the ring is formed.  They are not life threatening, and most people don't even know that they have them.  If your son has difficulty swallowing solid foods, it may be worthwhile getting him re-evaluated for this.  Some places will do a barium swallow to demonstrate the indentation on the esophagus.  However, if he has no symptoms, he probably needs no further evaluation for this.  Of note, the solution to this is a simple surgery where the ring is broken by cutting a small strand of scar tissue that makes up the ring; this scar is present in everyone, but only a few people have these rings.
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