Truncus arteriosus: Symptoms, Surgical Process and Risks

07 Nov 2010
Posted by webmaster

Truncus arteriosus otherwise known as Persistent truncus arteriosus, is a kind of congenital heart disease that is not a frequent occurence. Here, the Truncus Arteriosus is not forked properly into the aorta and pulmonary artery, resulting into the presence of a single large artery instead. Hence, this single artery has to perform dual functions of carrying blood both to the body as well as the lungs. The truncus is situated on an opening which is in between the two ventricles (ventricular septal defect). The causal reasons for this however can be several; it can be a case of genetic disorder, an effect of teratogens. Also, the DiGeorge syndrome is also seen to be a condition which is connected to the Truncus arteriosus. 

truncus arteriosus


Complications and Disadvantages

This anomaly causes obvious complications. The blood that leaves the heart can be carried to both the heart and the lungs. The extra blood flowing into the lungs puts the heart on an overdrive and over a course of time, this persistent additional flow results in damaging the blood vessels in the lungs causing pulmonary hypertension. Once this situation is reached, it is often too late to have it cured by surgical process.


The symptoms are:

  • Skin turning blue. (Cyanosis)
  • Delay in growth or failure in growth.
  • Lack of energy, fatigued condition and weakness.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Finger tips widening also known as clubbing.

The Surgical Process Overview

Almost everybody with this condition has been treated surgically in childhood. The surgery involves the inclusion of a patch to shut the ventricular defect, after which the disassociation of the pulmonary arteries with the single vessel is done and the insertion of a tube connecting the right ventricle and pulmonary arteries. This process called the ‘repair process’ is considered to be a successful one and generally delivers positive results. The tube might have to be replaced a couple of times in childhood itself and the need for replacement might also surface in adulthood as well. Cases which are left untreated can cause death, often very early in life.

Side Effects

However, there are a few after-effects:

  • After a considerable time period, the capacity of the heart muscles to contract may lessen. One may be requiring medical aid for the better pumping of the heart and to check high blood pressure.
  • Patients who have undergone Truncus arteriosus repair have bigger possibility of facing rhythm disturbances in heart, also known as arrhythmias. They may even result in dizzy feeling or fainting spells. Medications are usually prescribed under these circumstances.
  • At times, even after an early Truncus arteriosus repair, there is considerable worsening of pulmonary hypertension where patients may feel breathlessness, headaches and dizziness.


For every patient with truncus arteriosus, regular medical follow-up is a must and sometimes, even medication support. A variety of tests must be taken for proper monitoring of heart condition and to detect future need for any procedure. Sports activities may have to be curtailed, depending on heart condition, and a suitable lifestyle must be maintained for a healthy life.