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Blalock-Taussig shunt

Blalock-Taussig shunt (also known as Blalock-Thomas-Taussig or BT shunt) is a palliative procedure performed in patients with tetralogy of Fallot (prior to the ability to repair the defect) to increase the pulmonary blood flow. 

Originally the shunt sacrificed the subclavian artery (with a distal ligation) and the proximal portion is routed downwards to an end to side anastomosis with the ipsilateral branch of the pulmonary artery. The modified BT shunt nowadays uses a synthetic graft, usually polytetrafluoroethylene (Gore-Tex®). 

History and etymology

The procedure was named after Alfred Blalock (surgeon to first perform this procedure) and Helen Taussig (paediatric cardiologist, who designed the shunt). Vivien Thomas who was Blalock's laboratory technician, developed the procedure in laboratory dogs and adapted instruments for the first human surgery from those used on the experimental animals.  The procedure was first performed in a 15-month-old girl with tetralogy of Fallot in November 1944 at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland (USA).

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