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Aortopulmonary Window | Overview

What is an aortopulmonary window?

An aortopulmonary window is a heart defect in which there is a hole between the blood vessel that feeds the heart (the aorta) and the blood vessel going to the lungs (pulmonary artery). Because of this hole, blood from the aorta rushes into the pulmonary artery, and too much blood flows through the lungs.

Aortopulmonary window is rare — it accounts for less than 0.1 percent of all congenital heart defects. It is a type of congenital heart defect, meaning a baby is born with it.

About 50 percent of children with this heart condition also have another type of heart defect.

If left untreated, aortopulmonary window can lead to high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) and heart failure. Treatment usually involves surgery to patch the hole.

How we care for aortopulmonary window

Our team in Boston Children’s Department of Cardiac Surgery treat some of the most complex pediatric heart conditions in the world. Our cardiac surgeons have vast experience in repairing this defect, and work with nurses and doctors who are focused on providing expert care after surgery.

Aortopulmonary Window | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of aortopulmonary window?

Babies with an aortopulmonary window generally don’t feed well, have rapid breathing, are irritable and tire easily. Other symptoms include:

  • delayed growth
  • rapid heartbeat
  • respiratory infections

What are the causes of aortopulmonary window?

Aortopulmonary window occurs due to the abnormal development of the heart’s major blood vessels during early fetal growth. In most cases, this heart defect occurs by chance, with no clear reason.

Aortopulmonary Window | Diagnosis & Treatment

How is aortopulmonary window diagnosed?

If your baby has symptoms of an aortopulmonary window, the doctor will perform a complete exam and listen for an abnormal heart sound (heart murmur) with a stethoscope.

The most common test used to diagnose this condition is an echocardiogram.

The doctor may also order one or more tests to help diagnose aortopulmonary window, including:

What are the treatment options for aortopulmonary window?

Treatment for aortopulmonary window involves surgery to close the hole between the aorta and the pulmonary artery with a patch. This surgery is normally done as soon as possible after the diagnosis is made, usually when the child is a newborn.

What is the long-term outlook for a baby with an aortopulmonary window?

In most cases, surgery is successful, though early diagnosis and treatment is key to success. Children who are treated early usually have no lasting health problems.

Aortopulmonary Window | Programs & Services