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Symptoms of Transposition of the Great Arteries

Most babies with transposed great arteries are very blue (cyanotic) soon after birth due to a low oxygen level. They may also seem to be working hard to breathe and have trouble feeding.

If their ductus arteriosus is helping oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood mix so that some oxygen can get to their body, their symptoms will get worse as the ductus begins to close (a normal step after birth). If they have a patent ductus arteriosus (ductus that does not close on its own), some oxygen-rich blood will continue to get through.

If the baby has a patent (open) foramen ovale (a small hole between the atria that normally closes shortly after birth), their symptoms may get worse if this begins to close.

If they have an atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect, their symptoms may be less severe because this hole provides a path for some oxygen-rich blood to get from their lungs to the rest of their body.

Transposition of the Great Arteries Diagnosis

To diagnose this condition, your doctor will examine your child and use a stethoscope to listen to their heart. In children with transposed great arteries, doctors can often hear a heart murmur — the sound of blood moving in the heart in a way that’s not normal. In most cases, the diagnosis is confirmed using echocardiography, also known as cardiac ultrasound.

The doctor will ask for details about your child’s symptoms, their health history and your family health history.

Your child will also need tests that provide more information about how their heart and blood vessels look and work. These may include chest X-rays or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the heart, cardiac catheterizationelectrocardiogram and pulse oximetry.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

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Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)