Heart and Blood Conditions

Transposition of the Great Arteries Symptoms and Diagnosis

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    • Seattle Children's Main Campus: 206-987-2515
    • Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center: 425-454-4644
    • Everett: 425-304-6080
    • South Clinic in Federal Way: 253-838-5878
    • Olympia: 360-459-5009
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    • Seattle Children's doctors provide many cardiac services at regional sites throughout the Pacific Northwest. See our complete list of Heart Center locations.

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    • If you are a provider, fax a New Appointment Request Form (NARF) (PDF) (DOC) to 206-985-3121 or 866-985-3121 (toll-free).
    • No pre-referral work-up is required for most conditions. If you have already done testing such as an EKG, Holter monitor or echocardiogram, please fax this information as well as relevant clinic notes and the NARF to 206-985-3121 or 866-985-3121 (toll-free).
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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 (this is 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 they have a relatively large 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

Usually, this condition is diagnosed because the baby appears blue (cyanotic). Sometimes, it can be difficult to see the blueness (cyanosis).

Because of this, all newborns should be screened for the most complicated kinds of congenital heart disease with pulse oximetry, a test to determine the oxygen level in the blood. Thus, some babies may come to attention because of an abnormal pulse oximetry result, even if they are not visibly blue.

Other than blueness, the physical examination can be normal with this condition. In most cases, the diagnosis is made using echocardiography, also known as cardiac ultrasound.

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

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Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2015 for a cardiac referral, a second opinion or more information.