Congenital vascular anomalies and persistent respiratory symptoms in children

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 1999 Nov 15;51(1):23-31. doi: 10.1016/s0165-5876(99)00252-9.


Congenital cardiovascular anomalies are a rare but treatable cause of stridor in the paediatric population. Despite this, we and the authors of other series have found a delay in referral for endoscopic diagnosis. The duration of symptoms prior to endoscopic diagnosis ranged from 6 weeks to 10 years. It has been estimated that up to 3% of the population have congenital anomalies of the aortic arch complex and we feel that many patients currently being diagnosed as having recurrent croup or atypical asthma must be excluded from this group. We had 16 cases of congenital vascular anomalies causing tracheobronchial compression. Fifteen were due to innominate artery compression and one was due to a double aortic arch. Presenting symptoms included stridor (100%), persistent cough (75%), chronic dyspnoea (75%), reflex apnoea (60%), recurring respiratory tract infections (56%) and dysphagia (25%). Direct laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy was diagnostic in all cases and is our investigation of choice. Eleven underwent aortopexy (69%), one had division of the non-dominant aortic arch (6%) and four were managed conservatively (25%). They were followed for up to 9 years post-operatively and 75% had complete resolution of their symptoms. We feel that only a high clinical index of suspicion will enable these potentially fatal anomalies to be diagnosed.

MeSH terms

  • Aorta, Thoracic / abnormalities*
  • Brachiocephalic Trunk / abnormalities*
  • Bronchial Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Abnormalities / complications*
  • Constriction, Pathologic / etiology
  • Cough / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Tracheal Stenosis / etiology*