Truncus Arteriosus

When the fetus develops during pregnancy, the heart starts with a single large blood vessel coming from the heart called the truncus arteriosus. As fetal development progresses and the heart develops normally, the truncus divides into two arteries that carry blood out of the heart: pulmonary artery and aorta. Sometimes the single large blood vessel fails to divide during fetal development and the baby is born with a heart that has one artery carrying blood out of it. This congenital heart defect (present at birth) is known as truncus arteriosus (TA). If not treated immediately, life-threatening consequences can occur. Surgery to repair truncus arteriosus is generally successful, especially if the repair occurs before your baby is one month old.

Causes of Truncus Arteriosus

Doctors know that heart defects present at birth (congenital) arise from errors early in the heart's development, but there's often no clear cause.

Symptoms of Truncus Arteriosus

Signs and symptoms of truncus arteriosus usually appear within the first days of life and may include:

  • A bluish discoloration of the lips and skin caused by low oxygen (cyanosis)
  • Poor eating and poor weight gain
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Profuse sweating, especially with feeding
  • More sleepiness than normal
  • Unresponsiveness (the baby seems "out of it")
  • Heart murmur

Diagnosis of Truncus Arteriosus

To diagnose this condition, your doctor will perform a variety of tests, including but not limited to:

Diagnostic tests and procedures

Treatment of Truncus Arteriosus

Truncus arteriosus is most often fatal without early intervention. Therefore, intervention is critical. Some of treatment options include:

Medical and surgical procedures



Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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Children's Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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Truncus arteriosus Treatment & Care

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