Truncus arteriosus is a condition where there is just one large blood vessel instead of two separate vessels leaving the pumping chambers (ventricles) of the heart. In a normal heart, the large blood vessel that carries blood around the body (aorta) comes out of the left ventricle and the one that carries blood to the lungs (pulmonary artery) comes out of the right ventricle.
Having just one large blood vessel means oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood is able to mix and flow from the heart to the body and lungs. Most children also have a hole between the two ventricles (ventricular septal defect) which again allows oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix.
Truncus arteriosus is a form of congenital heart disease – a term used to describe a problem with the heart’s structure and function due to abnormal development before birth.
Our Cardiorespiratory Unit regularly refers to information published by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the Children's Heart Federation when explaining truncus arterious to our patients and their families.