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Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)

Transposition of the great arteries (TGA) belongs to a category of birth defects known as conotruncal heart defects, or outflow tract defects.

What it is

When this birth defect occurs, the aorta, which carries blood to the baby’s body, has switched places with the pulmonary artery, which carries low oxygen blood to the lungs. Because of this reversal, the body tissues receive low-oxygen blood and the lungs receive high-oxygen blood – the opposite of the correct process. This results in a shortage of the oxygen reaching the baby’s tissues.

Of the babies born with transposition of the great arteries, 60-70% are boys.


Transposition of the great arteries is generally detected within the first few weeks of a baby’s life. Symptoms of the defect include:

  • Blue color of the skin, or cyanosis
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lack of appetite
  • Poor weight gain


Anti-depressants: Several studies have linked maternal use of anti-depressants to a doubled risk of infant development of conotruncal heart defects, including transposition of the great arteries. For more information, click any of the drug names below. Anti-depressants include:


Leading up to surgery, the baby may be treated with medication to help keep the connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery open, and/or atrial septostomy, a procedure that enlarges the natural connection between the heart’s upper chambers.

There are a couple treatment options for the baby, including a complex arterial switch procedure. This is the most commonly chosen method of repair. The other option for surgery is called an atrial switch operation. If this defect appears in conjunction with another congenital heart defect such as ventricular septal defect, (VSD), patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) or atrial septal defect (ASD), that must also be corrected. Babies with TGA will need lifelong follow-up care with a heart doctor and may face a few limitations, such as avoidance of strenuous physical activity.




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