Truncus Arteriosus – Tests & Treatment | MedStar Health

Expert, lifelong care for a rare and dangerous heart defect

Normally, two main arteries carry blood away from the heart. But babies born with truncus arteriosus only have one main artery leading away from the heart instead of two. People with this condition often also have a ventricular septal defect, a hole in the wall separating the heart’s right and left ventricles.

Truncus arteriosus requires lifesaving surgery shortly after birth and regular, lifelong follow-up heart care. Our Adult Congenital Heart Center is one of the few programs in the country to specialize in the needs of adults born with these complex conditions.

Having truncus arteriosus as a child can increase your risk for developing several heart conditions throughout your life, including:


You’ll need check-ups on a regular basis to make sure no other heart conditions have developed.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Chest X-ray

Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart, and chest wall.

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets and computer technology used to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Stress Tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.


You may need to limit your physical activity or avoid some high-intensity sports if you were treated for truncus arteriosus as a baby. You’ll also need to take antibiotics before any dental procedures or surgeries to avoid endocarditis, an infection of the heart’s lining.

If you develop another heart condition, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan that’s specific to your needs. Your plan may include lifestyle modifications, medication, or more advanced treatments.

Heart Surgery

Heart surgery is an option to treat many heart conditions. You may need heart surgery either as a lifesaving procedure or when other treatments haven’t worked.

Structural Heart and Valve Disease Treatments

Structural heart and valve disease treatments address defects or abnormalities with the heart’s muscle or valves with or without surgery.

Additional information

Adult Congenital Heart Center

When you’re born with a heart problem, you may need complex care throughout your life. Our experts tailor this specialized care to your unique needs.


Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at