Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)
What is transposition of the great arteries?
Transposition of the great arteries (TGA) is a type of heart
defectthat your baby is born with (congenital). In this condition, the two arteries that
carry blood from the heart to the lungs and body aren’t connected as they should
be. They are reversed (transposed).
In TGA, the following occurs:
- The aorta is connected to the right
ventricle. It should normally be connected to the left ventricle.
- The pulmonary artery is connected to
the left ventricle when it should normally be connected to the right ventricle.
This means that:
- Oxygen-poor (blue) blood is sent to
the body instead of to the lungs.
- Oxygen-rich (red) blood returns to the
lungs instead of going to the body.
This is the opposite of a normal
Babies can't live with this
condition unless they get treatment.
TGA may occur on its own. Or your
child may also have other heart problems in addition to TGA. These might include
blockage of blood flow from the right ventricle to the aorta, or variations in the
course of the coronary arteries. Other heart problems such as holes in the walls
between the upper and lower chambers of the heart (atrial or ventricular septal defects)
may allow some oxygen-rich blood to be sent to your baby’s body. Also, some parts your
baby's heart may stay intact to allow oxygen-rich blood to reach your child's body.
Normally, these connections would close shortly after birth.
Common heart defects that can
happen with TGA include an opening in the ventricular septum, called a ventricular
septal defect (VSD). This is a hole between the 2 lower chambers of the heart. This
allows oxygen-poor and oxygen-rich blood to mix
What causes TGA?
Most of the time, the cause of TGA isn’t known.
What are the symptoms of TGA?
Most babies with TGA have blue skin color (cyanosis) in the
first hours or days of their lives.
Other symptoms that can occur
- Fast breathing
- Trouble breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Poor feeding
The symptoms of TGA may be similar
to symptoms of other conditions. Make sure that your child sees his or her healthcare
provider for a diagnosis.
How is TGA diagnosed?
If your child has signs of TGA
after birth, a pediatric cardiologist or neonatologist will check him or her. A
pediatric cardiologist is a doctor with special training in treating heart problems in
babies and children. A neonatologist is a doctor with special training in treating
problems in newborns. These doctors will be part of your baby’s heart care team.
Your child’s doctor may do tests to
confirm the diagnosis. The tests your child has depends on his or her age and condition,
and the doctor’s preferences.
For this test, a probe is placed
on your child's finger or toe. It measures the level of oxygen in the blood, if it is
below a certain level, this may be a sign of TGA.
A chest X-ray shows the size and
shape of the heart and lungs.
This test records the electrical
activity of the heart. It also shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias)
and spots heart muscle stress.
An echo uses sound
waves to make a moving picture of the heart and heart valves. This test may
Cardiac catheterization (cardiac or heart cath)
A cardiac catheterization gives
detailed information about the structures inside the heart. In this test, a small,
thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your child’s
groin. Then the healthcare provider guides it to your child’s heart. Your child’s
healthcare provider will inject your child with contrast dye to see his or her heart
more clearly. This test measures your child’s blood pressure and oxygen in the 4
chambers of the heart and the pulmonary artery and aorta. Your child will get
medicine to help relax and prevent pain (sedation).
How is TGA treated?
All children with a TGA will need
to have surgery to fix it. Your baby will likely be admitted to the intensive care unit
At first, your baby may get the
- Supplemental oxygen or
a ventilator. This is a machine that helps do the work of breathing for the baby.
- Different types pf medicine given
by IV. This will help your baby’s heart and lungs work better.
- A medicine called prostaglandin E1.
This is used to keep the ductus arteriosus open. This allows blood to flow through
the heart until surgery can be done.
Your child may have a test
called a balloon atrial septostomy. This is done during cardiac catheterization. This
test makes it easier for oxygen-rich blood to reach the rest of the body by creating
or enlarging an atrial septal defect which allows oxygen-rich blood and oxygen-poor
blood to mix.
Typically, in the first few
weeks of life, your baby will need surgery for TGA. This procedure is called
an arterial switch. Your child’s surgeon will connect the aorta and pulmonary artery
to their normal ventricles. The surgeon will also have to move the coronary arteries.
The surgeon will also fix any other heart problems, such as a VSD.
What are the complications of TGA?
Complications of untreated TGA include:
- Heart valve problems
- Heart muscle problems or problems with
the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Heart failure
- Lung problems
Living with TGA
Your child will stay in the hospital until surgery. Your child’s
healthcare team will tell you how to care for your baby before you leave the hospital.
He or she may also give you information about home healthcare for your baby, if you need
Most children who have surgery for
this condition will grow and develop normally. Ask your child's healthcare provider
about your child’s outlook. Your child will still need to see his or her heart doctor
for checkups. Your child may need additional surgeries or cardiac catheterizations in
Your child's doctor may give him or
her antibiotics before surgeries or dental procedures. This is to prevent infections.
Your child may also need to limit physical activity and avoid certain sports. Ask your
child’s heart doctor what activities are safe for your child.
When should I call my child's healthcare provider?
If your child has trouble breathing or any new symptoms, call his or
her healthcare provider.
Key points about TGA
In TGA, your child’s aorta is connected to the right ventricle, and
the pulmonary artery is connected to the left ventricle. This is the reverse of a normal
- A newborn with TGA will usually
have bluish skin color in the first days of life.
- All children with a TGA will need to
have surgery to fix it.
- Most children who have surgery for
this condition will grow and develop normally. Your child will still need to see his
or her heart doctor for checkups and may require more surgery in the future.
Tips to help you get the most from
a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for the visit and what
you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down
questions you want answered.
- At the visit, write down the name of a
new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new
instructions your provider gives you for your child.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment
is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects
- Ask if your child’s condition can be
treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is
recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if your child does
not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If your child has a follow-up
appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
- Know how you can contact your child’s
provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have
questions or need advice.
Online Medical Reviewer:
Online Medical Reviewer:
Pat F Bass MD MPH
Online Medical Reviewer:
Scott Aydin MD
Date Last Reviewed:
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