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USC - University of Southern California Cardiothoracic Surgery at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine
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Transposition of the great vessels
Transposition of the great vessels occurs when the great arteries are reversed. The aorta arises from the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery arises from the left ventricle. This produces two noncommunicating circulatory systems—a condition incompatible with life. A child with this defect needs a shunt to bridge the arterial and venous systems and mix high-oxygen saturated blood from the left heart and low-oxygen saturated blood in the right heart. In the first few days of life, such an infant benefits from the patent ductus arteriosus. However, in a few days when this temporary pathway closes spontaneously, the child quickly deteriorates. The child's survival depends on rapid identification of his defect and appropriate treatment.


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