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Aortic arch syndrome

Definition

Aortic arch syndrome refers to a group of signs and symptoms associated with structural problems in the arteries that branch off the aortic arch. The aortic arch is the top part of the main artery carrying blood away from the heart.

Alternative Names

Subclavian artery occlusive syndrome; Carotid artery occlusion syndrome; Subclavian steal syndrome; Vertebral-basilar artery occlusive syndrome

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Aortic arch syndrome problems are most often associated with trauma, blood clots, or malformations that develop before birth. The arteries' defects result in abnormal blood flow to the head, neck, or arms.

In children, there are multiple types of aortic arch syndromes, including:

  • Congenital absence of a branch of the aorta
  • Isolation of the subclavian arteries
  • Vascular rings

Symptoms

Symptoms vary according to the affected artery, but may include:

  • Neurological changes such as:
    • Dizziness
    • Blurred vision
    • Weakness
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Breathing problems
  • Numbness of an arm
  • Reduced pulse
  • Transient ischemic attacks

Treatment

Surgery is usually required to treat the underlying cause of aortic arch syndrome.

References

Braverman AC, Thompson RW, Sanchez LA. Diseases of the Aorta. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 60.

Isselbacher EM. Diseases of the Aorta. In: Goldman L,Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier;2011:chap 78.


Review Date: 6/7/2012
Reviewed By: Glenn Gandelman, MD, MPH, FACC Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at New York Medical College, and in private practice specializing in cardiovascular disease in Greenwich, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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