We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Transposition of the Great Arteries?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Transposition of the great arteries is a congenital heart defect requiring immediate treatment. In a case of transposed arteries, the pulmonary artery is connected to the left ventricle, and the aorta to the right ventricle. The result is that blood that should be going to the lungs for oxygenation is sent back to the body through the aorta. Also, oxygen-enriched blood, rather than flowing to the body, is returned to the lungs through the pulmonary valve.

Before the 1960s, a diagnosis of transposition of the great arteries, also known as "blue-baby" syndrome, meant an extremely short life span. Children rarely lived past their first year. However, two main surgical tactics can now be employed to address this condition. Most children with transposition of the great arteries now have excellent expectations for a healthy future.

The first surgery for transposition of the great arteries was an atrial switch, also called the Mustard or Senning procedure. This open-heart surgery creates a tunnel between the atria. An atrial switch allows the blood to redirect into the appropriate ventricle, to be effectively delivered to the body or the lungs.

Since the Senning correction of transposition of the great arteries requires tunneling through the heart, those who have had this repair have a higher incidence of arrhythmia both directly after the surgery and years later. Heart function may also be impaired because the right ventricle, the weaker of the two ventricles, essentially must do the work of the left ventricle and pump blood to the body. Further surgery, pacemaker implantation or medications may be required to address weaker heart function as the patient ages.

Cardiothoracic surgeons observing the later complications of the atrial switch developed a surgery called the arterial switch, which is now the more commonly used correction for transposition of the great arteries. In this surgery, also called the Jatene procedure, the aorta and pulmonary artery are cut and switched back to normal position. The coronary arteries are also redirected to the aorta.

Opinions differ on when to perform the Jatene procedure to correct transposition of the great arteries. Some surgeons prefer to enlarge the natural connection between the atria, the patent ductus, before later conducting the arterial switch. Other surgeons take a more aggressive approach and elect to perform the Jatene procedure shortly after birth.

Advantages to performing the switch early include better heart function almost immediately. While enlarging the patent ductus buys time, it also results in significantly lower heart function. Many surgeons, however, like to give the newborn a chance to grow, because the larger the arteries, the easier the surgery. Consulting one's pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon on success rates and preference is helpful in determining which option is best for one's child.

Unlike other defects, though, transposition of the great arteries requires immediate treatment, so parents may not have a great deal of time to consider their options. Transposition of the great arteries poses no risk to the fetus, who receives oxygen from the mother, so it is frequently undiagnosed before birth. A fetal echocardiogram, a precise sonogram of the fetal heart, is not generally performed unless other heart defects are spotted.

Some sonographers and radiologists are excellent at finding heart defects. Others are not. However, the infant's blue color, difficulty breathing and inability to feed are usually noted within a few hours of birth, so few pediatricians fail to diagnose transposition of the great arteries.

After surgery, a child with transposition of the great arteries must be followed at least yearly by a pediatric cardiologist. In some cases, the transposed arteries do not grow properly and need to be replaced. Since the arterial switch surgery is relatively new, long-term outlook is not well defined. Children with this repaired condition may have some limitations, such as an inability to participate in organized sports. Also, cardiologists recommend that both children and adults with transposition take antibiotics before dental exams and procedures.

In general, however, the outlook for a child with an arterial switch is excellent. Women with an uncomplicated transposition can have children, something that until recently was not possible without considerable risk. Therefore, though there are some minor limitations on activities, which may change as the field of cardiology improves, those with a repaired transposition can be expected to lead a normal and healthy life.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.