BT Shunt

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BT Shunt

BT shunt or Blalock-Taussig shunt is a small tube for infants that connect the arterial circulation to the pulmonary circulation, to help more blood reach the lungs.

Purpose

A BT Shunt can be used to treat various conditions such as pulmonary stenosis, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and tricuspid atresia. The BT Shunt allows the blood to flow from a major artery through a connection to the pulmonary artery. This allows more blood to be oxygenated by the lungs, and also encourages the pulmonary arteries to grow, making the next surgery easier.

The BT shunt is not able to correct the defect, but it can help to resolve the symptoms, till a child is older and the defect gets repaired by itself.

Procedure

A BT shunt is quite small, and measures less than 0.20 inches in diameter. During the procedure, the surgeon attaches the two ends of the shunt to a major blood vessel, such as the subclavian artery, and to the pulmonary artery. The high pressure of the arterial system will next force blood through the BT shunt to the lungs in order to pick up more oxygen.

Aftercare

After the procedure for a BT shunt, an infant will require mechanical ventilation, i.e. a breathing machine immediately after the operation. Chest tubes will also be required in order to collect fluid that can accumulate in the chest.

Foley catheter for collecting urine and accurately keeping track of the urine output is also generally required.

Patients also need to be carefully monitored at home.

Risks

Risks associated with a procedure include shunt blockage, tube infection, and excessive blood flow to the lungs risking vessel damage or decreased flow of blood to the brain and body.

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