Collateral Vessel Closure

Collateral vessels are abnormal blood vessels that connect the aorta with the pulmonary arteries. The aorta is a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to arteries throughout the body. Pulmonary arteries are the vessels that transfer blood from the heart back to the lungs for oxygen.

Everyone has collateral vessels, but they're normally small and not in use. They become enlarged in some people with congenital heart disease (heart disease that's present since birth). When a collateral vessel enlarges, it may let blood flow from an artery to an adjacent artery or it may carry blood downstream and then back to the same artery.

Collateral vessels can make the heart work harder and in some cases should be closed. These vessels can cause other medical conditions, such as myocardial ischemia, an insufficient blood supply to the middle muscular layer of the heart wall; congestive heart failure or the weakening of the heart; endocarditis, an infection of the heart's inner lining; stroke, caused by a lack of blood to the brain; and aneurysms, which are bulging or ballooning of a blood vessel wall. Collateral vessels affect children and adults and can be a congenital or acquired heart defect.

Cardiologist will often close collateral vessels as a interventional method to close venovenous fistulas, venocameral fistulas, coronary-cameral fistulas, aortopulmonary collateral vessels and more. Specialists in our Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory close collateral vessels using a non-surgical procedure, called cardiac catheterization, and specially designed metal coils and plugs. The vessel closure takes about two and a half hours. In most cases, patients go home the same day as the procedure.

During cardiac catheterization a doctor inserts thin, flexible tubes called catheters into a vein in the leg or neck and threads them through the vein to the heart. Once in the heart, the catheters are used as conduits to place small metal coils or plugs in the collateral vessels. The coil causes a blood clot to form and close the vessel. Over time, tissue grows around the coil, forming a permanent seal.


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

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

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

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