An arterial switch operation is a surgical procedure performed on the heart to correct transposition of the great arteries (TGA) at the level of the aorta and main pulmonary artery.


The procedure is performed to address transposition of the great arteries (TGA). This condition involves the connection of the two major arteries leaving the heart to the incorrect ventricles, the two lower chambers of the heart. As a result, oxygenated blood from the lungs is pumped back into the lungs, while deoxygenated blood, which is necessary to nourish the body, is pumped throughout the body. Insufficient oxygen supply to the body can result in serious complications and threaten life.

Transposition of the great arteries is typically identified in newborns shortly after birth, usually within a few hours or days. Symptoms can include a bluish tint to the skin (cyanosis) due to oxygen deprivation, shallow breathing, decreased appetite, and little to no weight gain. The medical team will normally provide support for the newborn until the surgical procedure can be performed. The permanent solution involves the surgical relocation of the arteries to their correct positions. After the procedure, most children can resume normal activities and exhibit normal growth and eating habits.

Risks, Complications, and Side Effects of the Procedure and Recovery

  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Arrhythmias that cause irregular heart beat.
  • Reaction to medication.
  • Damage to blood vessels.
  • Heart valve problems.
  • Infection.
  • Stroke.
  • Death.

If the patient experiences any of the following symptoms, please make sure they see a doctor immediately:

  • Fever.
  • Swelling, redness, or bleeding of/from the incision site.
  • Shallow breathing.
  • Abnormal fatigue or weakness.
  • Loss of appetite or inability to eat.
  • Increasing pain.

What happens if the procedure is not performed?

Surgery is the only available treatment for transposition of the great arteries. If the disease is left untreated, patients with severe symptoms can face fatal consequences within six months.


Medication and balloon angioplasty are effective treatments, but they are only temporary solutions.