Vascular rings and slings

Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Vascular rings and slings refer to the congenital vascular encirclement of the oesophagus and/or trachea by anomalous/aberrant vessels. 

Vascular rings are rare, occurring in <1% of patients 1. No gender or ethnic predispositions have been identified 3

Many vascular rings and slings are asymptomatic although they can present in paediatric patients with wheezing/stridor, recurrent respiratory infections and/or dysphagia lusoria

Vascular rings can be classified as complete (mostly symptomatic) or incomplete (mostly asymptomatic) 5

Causes of vascular rings and slings commonly include 1:

Radiographic features will differ depending on the underlying anomaly.

Abnormal contour to the trachea may be visible on plain film, as may a right sided aortic arch.

This may similarly demonstrate vascular indentations on the oesophagus on barium swallow. The pattern of indentations on the lateral oesophagram helps to narrow the differential:

  • allow precise demonstration of the anomaly

Possible considerations include:

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Article information

rID: 32162
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Vascular ring and sling
  • Vascular sling

Cases and figures

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    Barium swallow
    Case 1: fluoroscopy
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    3D surface render...
    Case 1: CTA
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    Case 2: right aortic arch
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    Complete tracheal...
    Case 3: pulmonary sling
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    Case 4: double aortic arch
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    Case 5: pulmonary sling
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