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Boston Children's Hospital is here with expert help if your infant or child has been diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta (COA). While this condition is very serious, Boston Children’s has vast experience treating infants and children who have COA—with excellent short- and long-term outcomes. These pages will give you a basic understanding of the condition to help you plan for, and cope with, this rare congenital heart defect.
In the infant or child with a normal heart, oxygen-poor (blue) blood returns to the right atrium from the body, enters the right ventricle and is pumped through the pulmonary artery into the lungs to receive oxygen. The oxygen-rich (red) blood returns to the left atrium from the lungs, passes into the left ventricle and is pumped out to the body through the aorta.
In COA, there’s a narrowing of the aorta, the main artery that delivers oxygen-rich (red) blood to the body. The narrowing restricts the amount of oxygen-rich blood that can travel to the lower part of the body.
Please note: COA can occur as a defect by itself (in isolation), or in association with other defects, such as transposition of the great arteries, double outlet right ventricle or certain single ventricle defects. These pages will discuss COA as an isolated defect.
Our team in Boston Children’s Cardiac Surgery Department understands how distressing a diagnosis of coarctation of the aorta can be for parents. You can have peace of mind knowing that our surgeons treat some of the most complex pediatric heart conditions in the world, with overall success rates approaching 98 percent—among the highest in the nation for large pediatric cardiac centers. We use the following elements to provide the best possible outcomes:
For more visual and audio information on COA, visit the COA section of our cardiovascular Multimedia Library.
Coarctation of the aorta: Reviewed by Michael Freed, MD
© Boston Children's Hospital, 2011
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