Truncus arteriosus, aka truncus, is a rare congenital heart defect that causes blue skin cyanosis because of oxygen poor circulating blood. The basis of this birth defect is a heart vessel problem.
Normally, two blood vessels lead out of your heart. One leads to your lungs for its blood to be oxygenated. The other out to your body full of oxygen.
With truncus arteriosus, your heart has only one vessel for blood’s passage out. As such, the blood doesn’t remain separated according to its oxygen content. Instead, it mixes and the blood that’s sent out to your body is too low in oxygen. So, it’s truncus mixing of blood that causes your cyanosis.
Additional problems associated with truncus arteriosus are the heart valve controlling blood flow is often defective and the abnormal distribution of blood causes a blood flow increase to your lungs.
Surgical repair is usually what’s necessary to prevent death from truncus circulation issues.
Cyanosis blue skin is a telltale symptom of truncus arteriosus and usually is noticeable within a couple of weeks after birth. Some other truncus symptoms include:
- excessive sleepiness
- delayed growth, failure to grow
The abnormal circulation caused by truncus arteriosus often leads to other health complications, like:
- enlarged heart ~ because your heart is forced to work harder
- breathing difficulty ~ caused by too much blood flowing into your lungs
- pulmonary hypertension ~ blood flow increase causes blood vessels to narrow
- heart failure ~ intensified workload & poor oxygen supply results in weakened heart
Symptoms of these health complications typically involve shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue and palpitations.
What exactly causes truncus arteriosus is unknown. But, these factors escalate the risk for this blue skin causing birth defect to occur in your unborn child:
- you have diabetes
- you have a congenital heart defect
- taking certain drugs during pregnancy
- excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy
- rubella, other viral infection during early pregnancy
Surgical repair is the standard treatment for truncus. The extent of the repair that’s necessary sometimes requires multiple surgeries. And before your surgical repair, you might be given digitalis and a diuretic.