Trends in vascular ring surgery

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2005 Jun;129(6):1339-47. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2004.10.044.


Objective: We sought to review our experience with infants and children with anatomically complete vascular rings (ie, double aortic arch and right aortic arch with left ligamentum) and define perioperative trends in diagnostic imaging, operative techniques, and clinical outcomes.

Methods: From 1946 through 2003, 209 patients (113 with double aortic arch and 96 with right aortic arch) underwent surgical repair. Mean and median ages at the time of the operation were as follows: double aortic arch, 1.4 +/- 2.4 years and 0.75 years, respectively; right aortic arch, 2.7 +/- 3.9 years and 0.9 years, respectively. Fourteen (14.6%) patients with right aortic arch had an associated Kommerell diverticulum. Cardiac diagnoses were present in 26 (12.4%) of 209 patients.

Results: There has been no operative mortality since 1959. In the past 30 years, mean hospital stay decreased from 8 to 3 days. Primary means of diagnosis has shifted from barium swallow and angiography to computed tomographic scanning or magnetic resonance imaging. In the past 10 years, 73% of patients had preoperative or intraoperative bronchoscopy. The technique of operation has shifted to a muscle-sparing left thoracotomy without routine chest drainage. In 7 recent patients with right aortic arch and a Kommerell diverticulum, the diverticulum was resected, and the left subclavian artery was transferred to the left carotid artery as a primary procedure.

Conclusions: At our institution, computed tomographic scanning has replaced barium swallow as the diagnostic procedure of choice for vascular ring evaluation. We recommend both preoperative bronchoscopy and echocardiography. Use of a muscle-sparing thoracotomy without routine chest drainage has decreased mean hospital stay. For patients with a right aortic arch and associated Kommerell diverticulum, we recommend diverticulum resection with left subclavian artery transfer to the left carotid artery.

MeSH terms

  • Aorta, Thoracic / abnormalities*
  • Aorta, Thoracic / surgery*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures / trends