Blalock-Taussig shunt

A.Prof Frank Gaillard et al.

Blalock-Taussig shunt, also known as Blalock-Thomas-Taussig 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 expanded 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).

Congenital heart disease

There is more than one way to present the variety of congenital heart diseases. Whichever way they are categorised, it is helpful to have a working understanding of normal and fetal circulation, as well as an understanding of the segmental approach to imaging in congenital heart disease.

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Article information

rID: 8485
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • BT shunt
  • Blalock Taussig procedure
  • "Blue-baby" operation
  • Blalock-Thomas-Taussig Shunt

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Cases and figures

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    Case 3: modified BT shunt
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