What Is Vascular Ring? (A Guide for Parents)

If you’re a worried or concerned parent looking to learn more about vascular ring, the following guide has information you need. This includes:

  • Vascular ring definition
  • Causes and symptoms
  • How the treatment of vascular ring works

By the end, you’ll be feeling much calmer with your new knowledge.

What Is Vascular Ring?

Vascular ring is a heart defect that’s present from birth. A part of the body’s main artery forms a small ring around the trachea (windpipe) or esophagus (the pipe that connects the throat to the stomach). In some cases, the ring can occur around both the trachea and the esophagus, but this is less common.

Compared with other congenital heart defects, vascular ring is one of the rare ones. As of today, vascular rings are incredibly rare and occur in less than 1% of babies.

Causes and Symptoms

Despite significant research, scientists are yet to discover why vascular rings occur during fetal development. On top of this, there’s also no known cause of a genetic link, which means vascular ring cannot be passed from generation to generation.

Usually, vascular ring isn’t immediately diagnosed at birth unless it’s by chance. Instead, what happens is a baby or child will start to exhibit symptoms that then lead to a vascular ring check and diagnosis by a healthcare professional.

When it comes to vascular ring symptoms, most of the symptoms are usually mild. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

These symptoms typically remain mild. However, if you start to notice these symptoms and your child is expressing clear distress, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible.


If your child has been diagnosed with vascular ring or you suspect that they might have it, you’ll have lots of questions on your mind regarding vascular ring treatment. Specifically, can it be treated, and what treatment is available?

The good news is that vascular ring can be successfully treated through surgery. When the surgery is taking place, the surgeon splits the vascular ring so that the blood vessel is no longer pressing against the windpipe or food pipe.

Note: Vascular ring surgery is usually done through a small incision and doesn’t require open-heart surgery.

After the surgery takes place, your child will be required to stay in the hospital for a few days before being discharged. Then, the recovery process will begin, which will likely take several months. However, in some cases, it can take as long as one year for the trachea to return to its normal shape.

The major positive out of all of this is that your child’s symptoms should stop after successful vascular ring surgery. As a result, they will have a better quality of life, and you can have peace of mind knowing that their previous symptoms will no longer be a problem.

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Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Marie Benz