Double Aortic Arch—Child
En Español (Spanish Version)

Double aortic arch is a type of vascular ring heart defect. In a normal heart, the blood flows in from the body to the right atrium, goes into the right ventricle, and then goes to the lungs to pick up fresh oxygen. The blood returns to the left atrium, goes into the left ventricle, and goes out to the rest of the body through a large artery called the aorta.

With a double aortic arch, the aorta branches into right and left tubes, instead of just being one large tube. The two tubes can circle around and compress the airways and/or esophagus.

Heart Chambers and Valves

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Blood Flow Through the Heart

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Double aortic arch is a congenital defect. This means that the baby is born with the condition. It is not known exactly why the heart develops abnormally in some babies.

Risk Factors
Risk factors for developing double aortic arch are not well known.

Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lung infections
  • Poor feeding, including vomiting and choking
  • Trouble swallowing, including choking
  • Vomiting
  • Acid reflux
While this condition may be detected in infancy, it is often found later.

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

Your child's bodily structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:

Your child's heart activity may need to be measured. This can be done with an electrocardiogram.

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

If your child is having symptoms like difficulty breathing, surgery will be done. The goal of surgery is to tie off and close one of the extra branches. After this is done, symptoms may improve right away or gradually over time.

Lifelong Monitoring
Your child will have regular exams from a heart specialist.

There is no known way to prevent double aortic arch. Getting appropriate prenatal care is always important.

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Heart Association

Canadian Cardiovascular Society

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Double aortic arch. Johns Hopkins University, Cove Point Foundation website. Available at: Updated May 16, 2011. Accessed July 19, 2013.

Vascular ring. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: Accessed July 19, 2013.

Last Reviewed July 2013

Health Information Library content is provided by EBSCO Publishing, fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.


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.


To send comments or feedback to EBSCO's Editorial Team regarding the content please e-mail