Vascular Ring Program

A vascular ring is a treatable heart defect. Some children do not experience any symptoms, and those who do often benefit from a simple corrective surgery. Your child will receive world-class care at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Our surgeons excel at treating all types of congenital heart defects, including vascular rings.

Vascular Ring Program: Why Choose Us

CHLA consistently ranks among the top pediatric cardiology and heart surgery programs nationwide, according to U.S. News & World Report. Our surgeons also have experience treating children with multiple heart defects and achieve excellent outcomes. We offer your child:

  • Expert, collaborative care team: Our surgeons have extensive experience repairing vascular rings, including double aortic arch. After surgery, your child recovers in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU), where pediatric intensivists provide care and monitoring.
  • Multidisciplinary treatment: A vascular ring can affect breathing and feeding. Our Aerodigestive Program offers comprehensive care for vascular rings that affect the respiratory and digestive systems. Through this program, your child can easily see specialists in related departments such as Otolaryngology (ENT); Pediatric Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine; Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition; and Clinical Anesthesiology.
  • Child-focused environment: Children's Hospital is a dedicated pediatric hospital, meaning we’re set up with your child’s comfort in mind. From playgrounds and toys to child-sized equipment like blood pressure cuffs, we offer a child-centered and family-friendly care environment.

What Is a Vascular Ring?

A vascular ring is a structural problem of the aorta, the largest artery in the body. Before birth, the aorta develops from arches of tissue. Usually, some of the remaining arches turn into arteries. The body breaks down the rest. A vascular ring forms when some of those arches remain after birth.

The ring surrounds the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus (tube connecting the throat to the stomach). The ring may constrict these tubes, causing breathing or eating difficulties.

Sometimes children do not experience symptoms. Doctors may discover a vascular ring incidentally during another treatment or procedure. Symptoms also may develop in adulthood.

Vascular ring types

Vascular rings may partially or fully surround the esophagus and trachea. Common types include:

  • Double aortic arch: The aortic arch is where the aorta starts to curve downward to deliver blood to the rest of the body. In this defect, the artery branches into two vessels that form a complete ring around the trachea and esophagus, instead of arching around them.
  • Left ligamentum arteriosum: Normally, the aorta curves to the left, but in this defect, it curves to the right. The left subclavian artery then wraps around the back of the trachea and esophagus, forming a complete ring.

Vascular Ring Treatment

Vascular ring complications may get worse over time, so doctors usually recommend surgery for all children with symptoms. Doctors consider the surgery safe and low risk. The procedure involves splitting the ring and tying off the extra vessels.

Conditions we treat

  • Double aortic arch
  • Pulmonary artery sling
  • Vascular rings