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Double Outlet Right Ventricle With Transposition Treatment & Management

  • Author: M Silvana Horenstein, MD; Chief Editor: P Syamasundar Rao, MD  more...
Updated: Apr 29, 2014

Medical Care

Medical treatment depends on the clinical presentation, which is determined by the different physiology of each type of double outlet right ventricle (DORV).

In DORV with no pulmonary valve stenosis (PS), direct medical management at reducing congestive heart failure (CHF) to improve the patient's condition prior to surgery. Management of CHF requires medications such as loop diuretics (eg, furosemide), potassium-sparing diuretics (eg, spironolactone), and digitalis. In addition, observe subacute bacterial endocarditis prophylaxis.

Infants with a subpulmonary ventricular septal defect (VSD) with a small or restrictive patent foramen ovale or atrial septal defect may require balloon atrial septostomy or blade atrial septostomy to improve interatrial mixing of saturated and desaturated blood and to decompress the left atrium.

In patients with DORV and PS with marked cyanosis and hypoxemia, initial medical management consists of increasing the fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2), which may be up to 100%. This decreases pulmonary vascular resistance, thereby increasing the amount of blood flow in the lungs with consequent increase in overall organ oxygenation.


Surgical Care

Two surgical approaches are appropriate, depending on the degree of CHF.

Palliative surgery

As with medical treatment, this approach helps improve the patient's clinical condition, allowing him or her to gain weight to achieve optimal conditions for definitive surgical repair.

Infants with no PS who have a subpulmonary VSD, subaortic VSD, or doubly committed VSD and who present with CHF may undergo pulmonary artery (PA) banding to decrease pulmonary blood flow (PBF).

Patients with subaortic or subpulmonary VSD with PS are cyanotic and have decreased PBF; therefore, they undergo a systemic-to-PA shunt to increase PBF.

Definitive surgery

The relationship of VSD to the great arteries and the distribution of coronary artery (CA) determine surgical strategies.

Biventricular repair can be achieved in most patients with DORV. If biventricular repair is not feasible (eg, in straddling or abnormal distribution of chordae tendineae of atrioventricular [AV] valves and/or severe underdevelopment of left ventricle [LV]), a Fontan-type operation is an option with redirection of systemic (deoxygenated) blood into the PA without traversing a ventricle.

If biventricular repair is feasible, the 2 basic surgical steps to follow according to certain authors are (1) creation of an intracardiac tunnel to connect the LV to usually the aorta or, less commonly, the main pulmonary artery, where the conal septum is resected and any abnormal AV valve insertion on such conal septum are preserved; and (2) creation of an intracardiac or an extracardiac reconstruction to connect the RV to the main pulmonary artery.[15]

Several surgical approaches are appropriate in subpulmonary VSD; surgery is usually completed by age 3-4 months to avoid development of increased pulmonary vascular resistance. The surgical approach with the lower mortality rate of approximately 10-15% is the arterial switch operation with creation of an interventricular tunnel directing LV outflow into the PA, which becomes a neo-aorta (AO) by virtue of the switch.[16]

If the VSD is subaortic or doubly committed, the optimal approach is to create a tunnel between the VSD and the AO to direct oxygenated blood into systemic circulation and also to eliminate mixing of the 2 circulations. Timing for this surgery depends on the size and clinical condition of the patient, but it is generally completed by age 4-6 months.

Heart transplantation

If the anatomy of associated lesions is too complex to consider an anatomic repair or if a repair results in unsatisfactory hemodynamics and intractable symptoms, consider heart transplantation. According to a report from the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, 15.4% of patients undergoing transplant were born with some form of DORV.[17] These patients require lifelong immunosuppression and close follow-up care.



As with any other form of congenital heart disease (CHD), parents of patients born with DORV and transposition of the great arteries may meet with a geneticist to discuss the possibility of subsequent children having this or other forms of CHD. When CHD is detected, a detailed investigation for extracardiac malformation should be performed and vice versa. Also, issues such as preterm birth and stillbirth should be taken into account in risk assessment and risk stratification in patients born with CHD.

CHD belongs to the spectrum of birth defects and, despite technological advances, it significantly contributes to infant mortality. Because extracardiac anomalies occur in 15-45% of patients with CHD, these should always be investigated.

According to one study, the most prevalent extracardiac anomalies in general are the craniofacial malformations. However, the most prevalent associated with conotruncal heart defects are anomalies of the GI and genitourinary systems. Specifically, DORV may be associated with omphalocele, gastroschisis, facial clefting, and CHARGE (coloboma, heart disease, atresia choanae, retarded growth and retarded development and/or CNS anomalies, genital hypoplasia, and ear anomalies and/or deafness) syndrome.

Preterm infants have been shown to have more than twice as many cardiovascular malformations as do term infants, and 16% of all infants with cardiovascular malformations are preterm.

Prevalence of CHD is high among late stillbirths. In particular, a greater incidence of coarctation of the AO, double-inlet left ventricle, hypoplastic left heart, truncus arteriosus, DORV, and AV septal defect is noted among stillbirths.



Patients with DORV and transposition of the great arteries have no specific activity restrictions; their physiology may limit their exercise tolerance. After surgical intervention, some restrictions may be required depending on the hemodynamic result; however, these patients can usually participate in all age-appropriate activities.

Lifelong antibiotic prophylaxis is necessary prior to any potentially contaminated procedure, especially dental work.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

M Silvana Horenstein, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Medical School at Houston; Medical Doctor Consultant, Legacy Department, Best Doctors, Inc

M Silvana Horenstein, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Cardiology, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Julian M Stewart, MD, PhD Associate Chairman of Pediatrics, Director, Center for Hypotension, Westchester Medical Center; Professor of Pediatrics and Physiology, New York Medical College

Julian M Stewart, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Autonomic Society, American Physiological Society

Disclosure: Received grant/research funds from Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals for none.

Chief Editor

P Syamasundar Rao, MD Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Emeritus Chief of Pediatric Cardiology, University of Texas Medical School at Houston and Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital

P Syamasundar Rao, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pediatric Society, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Juan Carlos Alejos, MD Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Juan Carlos Alejos, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Actelion for speaking and teaching.


Michael L Epstein, MD Director, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Michigan; Professor, Wayne State University School of Medicine

Michael L Epstein, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Cardiology, and American Heart Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Double outlet right ventricle (DORV) with transposition of the great arteries accounts for 26% of cases of DORV. The aorta (AO) is anterior and to the right of the pulmonary artery (PA), and both arteries arise from the right ventricle (RV). The only outflow from the left ventricle (LV) is a ventricular septal defect (VSD), which diverts blood toward the RV. Pulmonary veins drain into the left atrium (LA) after blood has been oxygenated in the lungs (L). Systemic venous return is to the right atrium (RA).
This is an angiogram obtained during catheterization of a patient with double outlet right ventricle (DORV) with transposition of the great arteries. Injection of contrast though the catheter (arrow) into the left ventricle (LV) shows that blood is directed toward the right ventricle (RV) through a remote or doubly committed ventricular septal defect (VSD). The aorta (AO) is anterior to the pulmonary artery (PA) and both clearly arise from the RV.
This is an angiogram obtained during catheterization of a patient with double outlet right ventricle (DORV) with transposition of the great arteries (see Media file 2). Blood fills the aorta (AO) and pulmonary artery (PA) almost simultaneously, which is another indicator of a remote or doubly committed ventricular septal defect (VSD) (curved arrow). LV indicates the left ventricle, RV indicates the right ventricle, and the small arrow to the left indicates the catheter.
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