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Cardiothoracic Surgery: Coronary Artery Anomalies

The coronary arteries are branches of the aorta, the largest artery in the body, and supply the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood. Blockage or interruption of blood flow in these arteries can seriously damage the heart muscle. This blockage is typically caused by plaque buildup inside the arteries related to cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure or other factors. However, there are a number of rare defects in which blood flow through the coronary arteries may be compromised due to abnormal development of the arteries themselves. Patients born with these conditions may not notice problems until later in life. On occasion, these conditions can be fatal. Heart surgeons at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville have an extensive experience treating these rare anomalies.

Anomalous Origin of the Right Coronary Artery from the Left Sinus

One such anomaly is the anomalous origin of the right coronary artery from the left sinus. In this situation, the right coronary artery comes from a different part of the aorta and can become compressed by other structures in the chest, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle. This can result in chest pain, abnormal heart rhythms, fainting or even death. UF surgeons treat this rare problem by moving the artery to the correct location.

Anomalous Origin of the Left Coronary Artery from the Pulmonary Artery (ALCAPA)

In this condition, one of the arteries to the heart muscle comes from the artery leading to the lung, rather than from the aorta. This provides oxygen-poor blood to the heart muscle and can damage it. The defect is usually discovered in infants in the first few months of life and is repaired at that time, however the condition is found it in adults as well. The repair involves moving the coronary artery to its correct location. Patients can expect good outcomes and return to full activity with improved physical stamina.