Truncus Arteriosus

1 What is Truncus Arteriosus?

Truncus arteriosus is very rare congenital heart defect that is present at birth. Normally there are two large blood vessels leading out from the heart, but in this condition there is only one blood vessel called truncus arteriosus.

Truncus arteriosus is accompanied by ventricular septal defect. Which means that there is a hole in the septum of the ventricles.

As a result of truncus arteriosus the oxygen rich blood, which should go to the body and oxygen poor blood, which should go to the rest of the body is mixed.

This will result in serious circulatory disorders. If left untreated truncus arteriosus can be fatal. Surgery to repair this condition is generally successful, especially if done before baby is two months old.

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of truncus arteriosus includes:

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3 Causes

Truncus arteriosus is caused during growth of the heart in the fetus. The underlying exact cause of truncus arteriosus is unknown.

An overview of the normal heart structure and function will help understand the sequence of events occurring in truncus arteriosus.

A normal heart has four chambers. Two of which are ventricles and other two are atrium. The left atrium and left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood, whereas right atrium and the right ventricle pumps Deoxygenated blood.

The aorta carries oxygen rich blood to the whole body, whereas pulmonary artery carries Deoxygenated blood to the lungs for purification.

In truncus arteriosus there is only one large blood vessel originating from the heart and the septum between ventricles remains unclosed.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Diagnosis of truncus arteriosus starts with a physical examination of the patient. Listening to heart murmurs. The Doctor recommends some of the following tests to assess the function of heart:

  • Echocaardiogram: it uses sound waves and principle of echo to check the function and structure of the heart. In truncs arteriosus there is a large vessel originating from the heart and a hole in the ventricular septum.
  • X-ray: an x-ray examination is carried out to assess the size of the heart and the presence of fluid in the lungs.

5 Treatment

Treatment of truncus arteriousus must be done immediately after the birth of the child before two months of age. Some of the following medications can be used to reduce the signs and symptoms caused in truncus arteriosus.

They include:

  • Diuretics- diuretics decrease the amount of fluid in the body and reduce the load on the heart.
  • Ionotropic Drugs-they strengthen contractions of the heart.

Surgical procedures include:

  • closure of the hole between the ventricles
  • separate the upper portion of the pulmonary artery from the large blood vessel

Implant a tube which connects right ventricle and upper portion of pulmonary artery, creating a complementary pulmonary artery, reconstruction of single large blood vessel the aorta.

6 Prevention

Certain things can help prevent the risk of the baby toward truncus arteriosus. These things include:

  • avoiding smoking
  • alcohol consumption
  • maintaining proper diet
  • maintaining blood sugar levels 

7 Lifestyle and Coping

When diagnosed with Truncus Arteriosus, it might be hard for your child to cope and develop a normal lifestyle.

Caring for baby with serious heart problem such as truncus arteriosus can be challenging. Some of the following strategies can help it make easier:

  • Seeking support from family members and friends
  • Contacting nonprofit organizations, such as an American heart association.
  • Recording baby's health history and write down the medications, surgery and other procedures done on the baby these might be helpful in the future.
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