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Coarctation of the Aorta Repair in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about a coarctation of the aorta (COA) repair?

A COA repair is surgery to open the aorta. A COA repair will improve blood flow to your child's body. This will decrease stress on his or her heart.

What will happen before a COA repair?

  • Your child may need a heart catheterization before surgery. This procedure will help your child's surgeon plan for surgery. A heart catheterization is a procedure used to show the narrowing of your child's aorta and how well the heart is pumping. It also measures pressure in your child's heart. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help his or her heart show up better in pictures. Tell his or her healthcare provider if he or she has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
  • Your child's surgeon may tell you not to give your child anything to eat or drink after midnight on the day of surgery. He or she will tell you what medicines to give or not give your child on the day of surgery. Your child will be given an antibiotic through his or her IV on the day of surgery. This will help prevent a bacterial infection. Tell the provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. Your child may be given IV medicine to help him or her stay calm. Your child's provider may let you be with your child until he or she is asleep.

What will happen during a COA repair?

Your child will be given general anesthesia to keep him or her asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your child's surgeon will make an incision in his or her chest. He or she may cut and remove the narrowed area of your child's aorta. He or she may need to place a graft. A graft is a piece of tissue or blood vessel. The graft is used to widen the aorta or move blood around the narrowed area. The graft may be taken from another place in your child's body or from a donor. Your child's surgeon will close his or her incision with staples or stitches and place a bandage.

What will happen after a COA repair?

Healthcare providers will monitor your child's blood pressure, heartbeat, oxygen levels, and breathing. They will check your child's bandage for bleeding or swelling. Do not let your child get out of bed until providers say it is okay. Your child's incision may be sore, bruised, or swollen after surgery. This should get better in a few days.

What are the risks of a COA repair?

Your child's aorta may become narrowed again after it is repaired. Your child may bleed more than expected or get an infection. He or she may get a blood clot in his or her leg, arm, heart, lungs, or brain. An aneurysm may form in the area where the COA was repaired. An aneurysm is a weak spot in the wall of the aorta that is at risk of bursting. Blood flow to your child's body may decrease during surgery. This may cause permanent damage to organs or the spine. The tools used to repair the COA may damage the aorta. This may become life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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