Coarctation of the Aorta occurs when a part of the aorta has a very narrow section. The shape looks like an hourglass timer. The narrowing makes it difficult for blood to get through to the lower extremities. Over time, it can lead to problems such as extremely high blood pressure.
To repair this defect, a cut is most often made on the left side of the chest, between the ribs. There are several ways to repair coarctation of the aorta.
The most common way to repair it is to cut the narrow section and make it bigger with a patch made of Gore-tex, a man-made (synthetic) material.
Another way to repair this problem is to remove the narrow section of the aorta and stitch the remaining ends together. This can most often be done in older children.
A third way to repair this problem is called a subclavian flap. First, a cut is made in the narrow part of the aorta. Then, a patch is taken from the left subclavian artery (the artery to the arm) to enlarge the narrow section of the aorta.
A fourth way to repair the problem is to connect a tube to the normal sections of the aorta, on either side of the narrow section. Blood flows through the tube and bypasses the narrow section.
A newer method does not require surgery. A small wire is placed through an artery in the groin and up to the aorta. A small balloon is then opened up in the narrow area. A stent or small tube is left there to help keep the artery open. The procedure is done in a laboratory with x-rays. This procedure is often used when the coarctation reoccurs after it has been fixed.