Conditions + Treatments

Vascular Ring

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What is a vascular ring?

A vascular ring is a rare heart condition where the aorta, the artery that carries blood from the heart to the body, is formed abnormally. In this condition, the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus are encircled and compressed by a "ring" of blood vessels. This compression can cause breathing and digestive problems.

There are several types of vascular rings. The two most common are:
  • Double aortic arch. In this type of ring there are two aortic arches, one on the left side of the heart, one on the right. Typically, one of the arches, usually the right arch, is dominant and the other is small and underdeveloped. The trachea and esophagus are encircled by the two aortic arches.
  • Right aortic arch with aberrant subclavian and left ligamentum. In this type, the aortic arch curves right and the left subclavian artery, which branches from the aortic arch, passes behind the esophagus. The ligamentum arteriosus (a blood vessel remnant) passes between the left subclavian artery and left pulmonary artery, completing the ring.

How we care for vascular rings

The Boston Children's Hospital Heart Center is dedicated to achieving the best possible outcomes from every patient. 

Our top-ranked team treats a full spectrum of heart conditions, including the rarest and most complex congenital heart defects, such as vascular rings. 

Our areas of innovation for vascular rings

Surgery to divide the vascular ring was pioneered at Boston Children's Hospital in 1945, with the first successful operation on a child with a double aortic arch.

Today, we perform this procedure using robotic surgery equipment, allowing your child the benefits of minimally invasive surgery and improved surgical precision.







Boston Children’s is so much more than a hospital—it’s a community of researchers, clinicians, administrators, support staff, innovators, teachers, patients and families, all working together to make the impossible possible. ”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337

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