Introduction: A vascular ring refers to encirclement of the trachea and oesophagus by an abnormal combination of derivatives of the aortic arch system. These malformations can cause variable degrees of compression of the oesophagus, trachea or both. Symptoms can range from no effect to severe stridor, dyspnoea and/or dysphagia.
Method and results: This study presents a case series of six patients treated over a six-year period (2003-2009), illustrating the features of four different types of vascular ring; these types are discussed in detail. The clinical presentation, radiology, and microlaryngoscopy and bronchoscopy findings are also discussed.
Conclusion: The management of children with vascular rings requires a high index of clinical suspicion to ensure prompt diagnosis. As many of these children present with airway symptoms, the paediatric otolaryngologist plays a key role in identifying and assessing their anatomical anomalies.