Truncus arteriosus

Truncus arteriosus (TRUNG-kus ahr-teer-e-O-sus) is a rare heart defect that's present at birth (congenital). If your baby has truncus arteriosus, it means that one large blood vessel leads out of the heart. Normally, there are two separate vessels coming out of the heart.

In addition, the two lower chambers of the heart are missing a portion of the wall that divides them. As a result of truncus arteriosus, oxygen-poor blood that should go to the lungs and oxygen-rich blood that should go to the rest of the body are mixed together. This creates severe circulatory problems.

If left untreated, truncus arteriosus can be fatal. Surgery to repair truncus arteriosus is generally successful, especially if the repair occurs before your baby is 2 months old.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Signs and symptoms of truncus arteriosus often develop in the first few weeks of life. They include:

  • Blue coloring of the skin (cyanosis)
  • Poor feeding
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Poor growth
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia)
  • Excessive sweating (diaphoresis)

When to see a doctor

Seek medical treatment if you notice that your baby has any of the following problems:

  • Blue coloring of the skin (cyanosis)
  • Poor feeding
  • Poor weight gain
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Excessive sweating

Some signs of truncus arteriosus may indicate a problem that needs urgent care. If your baby experiences any of the following signs and symptoms and you can't see your baby's doctor immediately, seek emergency medical care:

  • Rapid, shallow or labored breathing
  • Worsening of blue coloring of the skin
  • Loss of consciousness

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