Transposition of the Great Arteries
Treatment

Early treatment is aimed at maintaining blood circulation. A medication called prostaglandin may be used to keep the ductus arteriosus — the connection between the aorta and pulmonary arteries that normally closes after birth — open.

Another procedure, called an atrial septostomy, may be used to enlarge an atrial septal defect. In this procedure, performed in our Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, a thin plastic tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin and then directed to the heart and the site of the foramen ovale. A balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated and then pulled back to enlarge the hole.

Permanent treatment requires a surgical procedure to switch the arteries to their proper places. This operation, called an arterial switch operation, is done within the first few weeks of life. It is an open-heart procedure that requires a temporary stopping of the baby's heart while a heart-lung machine handles respiration and blood circulation. Any abnormal holes between the ventricles or atria also are closed.

As part of the procedure, the coronary arteries — the arteries that supply blood to the heart — have to be taken off their normal position on the aorta and transplanted into the new "aorta" that now carries oxygenated blood from the left ventricle around the body. Rarely, this may be lead to problems that require further procedures.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Heart Center

Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
1975 Fourth St., Fourth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1955
Fax: (415) 353-9144

Cardiothoracic Surgery Program
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 476-3501
Fax: (415) 353-4144

Interventional Cardiology Program
1975 Fourth St., Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-4704
Fax: (415) 353-4144
Appointment information

Pediatric Heart Center Clinic at Mission Bay
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2008
Fax: (415) 353-4144
Appointment information