Interrupted Aortic Arch (IAA)

Interrupted Aortic Arch (IAA)

Interrupted aortic arch (IAA) is a problem where the aorta has an absent portion. This keeps the blood from reaching the lower body because the aorta is “interrupted."

The absent portion can be anywhere along the top curved part of the aorta. A baby born with IAA may appear okay until the patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) closes after birth. The PDA can provide blood flow to the lower body until it naturally closes within a few hours to days after birth. At that time, no blood will reach the lower body and the infant will go into shock, with no blood reaching the legs, kidneys and intestine.

Interrupted aortic arch with a VSD is the same as IAA, but there is also a ventricular septal defect (VSD) present. The surgery to repair the aorta will include an additional procedure to close the VSD.

The animations below approximate a normal heart and a heart with IAA.


Surgery is needed to correct this problem within a few days of birth. The surgery includes:

  • General anesthesia
  • Opening the chest in the center
  • Using cardiopulmonary bypass
  • Connecting/sewing the ends of the aorta together to allow blood to flow

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