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Vascular Rings Program

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Led by Dr. Osama Eltayeb, the Vascular Rings Program treats children with severe vascular rings, using innovative and proven surgical methods to relieve pressure on the trachea and esophagus.

Vascular ring describes an unusual formation of the aorta and the blood vessels around it. Children are diagnosed with vascular rings when their trachea (the tube that carries air to the lungs) and their esophagus (the tube that carries food to the stomach) are circled by a ring of blood vessels. Typically, the ring puts pressure on the trachea and esophagus, which can make it hard to breathe and eat. 

Lurie Children’s surgeons have pioneered a number of procedures to advance the methods used to correct many different kinds of vascular rings. Our physicians were the first in the world to successfully repair a pulmonary artery sling, and continue to operate on more pulmonary artery slings than any other hospital in North America.

We’ve also pioneered procedures such as the pericardial tracheoplasty, the tracheal autograft and Kommerell’s diverticulum.

Our significant historic contributions to the understanding and treatment of children with vascular ring include:

  • 502 patients in 63 years, the largest reported series in North America
  • First PA sling repair in 1953
  • First pericardial tracheoplasty in 1982
  • First tracheal autograft in 1996

What to Expect

The diagnosis of vascular rings can occur in several different ways. However, all patients require a CT or MRI evaluation of the chest and, in addition, a bronchoscopic exam by one of our ENT colleagues. These patients also receive an echocardiogram of the heart. Typically, these studies can be accomplished within one day. All patients are evaluated by a multidisciplinary team including Ear-Nose-Throat physiciansMedical Imaging and Cardiology.

The vascular rings that are repaired through a left thoracotomy usually entail a two-day hospital stay for the simpler vascular rings and a five-day hospital stay for the more extensive procedures. Patients undergoing pulmonary artery sling repair are operated on through a median sternotomy, with the use of cardiopulmonary bypass. The average length of stay for these patients is five to seven days.

The results of vascular ring surgery are excellent – we haven’t had operative mortality in the past 30 years and more than 90% of our patients see their symptoms resolve.


If you'd like to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS.DOC®) or visit our Appointments page for more information.

In addition to in-person visits, we now offer telemedicine visits via video or phone. Some appointments will still require you to be seen in-person, but your physician and care team will let you know if a telemedicine appointment is available.

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For families or providers seeking a second opinion, we offer a Priority Second Opinion Clinic.

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Heart Center Family Resource Guide

To help prepare families for their care with Lurie Children's Heart Center, we have compiled a list of resources about treatment and recovery. Learn how to get ready for an inpatient stay or outpatient visit, and read about our support services for patients and families.

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