Coarctation of the Aorta
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(Flash animation, less than 70KB)
How Is It Treated?

When this defect has been diagnosed, surgery may be performed to relieve the obstruction in the aorta. There are several ways to achieve this. A stent (rigid tube) may be inserted by means of a catheterization procedure to widen the affected part of the aorta and keep it open. In other cases, the obstructed section of the vessel may be removed.

In the animation to the left, the coarctation is repaired by removing the part of the descending aorta that contains the obstruction and suturing together the resulting ends (upper arrow).

Notice that, as is usual in Coarctation of the Aorta, the narrowing is directly opposite the Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), the small vessel that connects the aorta to the pulmonary artery. This vessel normally closes soon after birth. In the case shown here, the PDA is removed with the constricted section of the aorta and closed off at the pulmonary artery (lower arrow).

If the aortic valve is deformed, it may also be repaired. Post-operative recovery is usually uncomplicated, involving a hospital stay of from 4 days to 1 week.