Amelia was diagnosed with a right aortic arch before she was born. Some branching patterns of the aortic arch and the vessels arising from it can form a complete vascular ring around the trachea and the oesophagus. A vascular ring can cause clinical symptoms in the neonatal period such as respiratory and feeding problems, due to pressure on the trachea and or oesophagus. This is Amelia’s story, told by her mum, Claire:
Amelia was diagnosed with a right aortic arch antenatally, however it was not possible to confirm whether this has caused a vascular ring.
Within a couple of weeks of her birth, Amelia started struggling with her feeding (refusing feeds, screaming during/after feeds, showing uncomfortable signs during/after feeding).
After many visits to the GP and local hospital, she was diagnosed with digestive problems, reflux, silent reflux and cows milk protein allergy. During all these visits, I raised her right aortic arch and the possibility of a vascular ring, however I was told by at least three health professionals that, because her breathing was fine, it was highly unlikely her feeding issues were being caused by any vascular ring.
Eventually, at four months, we were able to get a CT scan, which confirmed that actually she did have a vascular ring with significant pressure on the oesophagus (and no significant pressure on the trachea).
Within a week she was referred to Leeds Hospital for surgery to release the ring. Post-surgery, she appears more comfortable with feeding and I have moved on to feeding solids with no issues.
I really hope our story can be seen by health professionals and parents with the same diagnosis. It needs to be known that a vascular ring does not always cause breathing problems, and if any child with a right aortic arch displays feeding issues and symptoms of reflux, there is a chance this could be caused by a vascular ring.
If we had known this and been able to get a CT scan earlier, we would have avoided months of stress and struggle trying to feed Amelia and she would have avoided the months of pain and discomfort.
Find our more about right aortic arch here.