Double aortic arch is a type of vascular ring heart defect. A large artery called the aorta branches into right and left tubes, instead of just being one large tube. The two tubes can circle around and press the airways and the tube that brings food from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus).

Heart Chambers and Valves
heart anatomy
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Blood Flow Through the Heart
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Double aortic arch is a birth defect. This means that the baby is born with it. The cause is not known.

Risk Factors

Risk factors are not well known.


Your baby may have:

  • Problems breathing
  • Lung infections
  • Poor feeding, such as choking
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Vomiting


It may be noticed in infancy, but it is often found later.

You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Pictures may be taken of your child’s body. This can be done with:


Talk with your doctor about the best plan for your child. Options are:


If your child is having symptoms like problems breathing, surgery will be done. The goal is to tie off and close one of the extra branches. Symptoms may get better right away or get better over time.

Lifelong Monitoring

Your child will have regular exams from a heart specialist.


Double aortic arch can’t be prevented.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 05/2018 -
  • Update Date: 06/28/2018 -