Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)

Transposition of the Great Arteries means that the pulmonary artery is where the aorta should be, carrying red blood from the left ventricle to the lungs, and the aorta is where the pulmonary artery should be, carrying blue blood around the body.

There are three ways to treat a Transposition of the Great Arteries:

Medication: your baby may be given medicine (Prostaglandin) to keep the foetal circulation open. This allows some deoxygenated blood to flow from the aorta into the pulmonary artery.

Balloon septostomy: Another way of increasing red blood to the aorta is to make the hole between the atria bigger. This involves threading a fine tube – a catheter – through the umbilicus (belly button) or groin, into the heart and through the hole between the atria. A balloon on the end is inflated and pulled back, so that the hole is made bigger.

Corrective surgery: this is open heart surgery – the heart will need to be stopped and opened to repair it. This means that a machine will have to take over the job that the heart normally does – the heart bypass machine. The aim of the operation is to make the circulation of blood through the heart and lungs normal.  

Usually an operation called the Arterial switch will be carried out in the first few days of life. The pulmonary artery and aorta are cut and reattached to the correct side of the heart. The arteries which supply the heart with red blood (coronary arteries) also need to be reattached.

The holes between the two sides of the heart are closed.

If your child has other heart defects, the kind of surgery needed will depend on how the heart can best be modified to cope with all the problems he or she has.

For most children this surgery is low risk, but it can depend on how well your child is otherwise. The doctors will discuss risks with you in detail before asking you to consent to the operation.

The length of time in hospital will usually be only 10 to 12 days, of which one or two will be spent in the intensive care and high dependency unit. Of course this depends on how well your child is before and after the surgery, and whether any complications arise.

More about Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)

Author(s): Children’s Heart Federation
Last updated: 2012-06-11