Resection of Kommerell's diverticulum and left subclavian artery transfer for recurrent symptoms after vascular ring division

C. L. Backer*, N. Hillman, C. Mavroudis, L. D. Holinger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Objectives: A Kommerell's diverticulum in patients with a right aortic arch may become aneurysmal and be an independent cause of tracheoesophageal compression, even after ligation and division of a left ligamentum. We review the indications for and results of Kommerell's diverticulum resection and left subclavian artery transfer in children with a right aortic arch who previously underwent vascular ring (ligamentum) division. Methods: From 1998 through 2001, eight children have been referred with recurrent respiratory symptoms (n=8) and/or recurrent dysphagia (n=4) after vascular ring division. Each child had a right aortic arch with a left ligamentum and had undergone division of the ligamentum elsewhere. All had a Kommerell's diverticulum that was not addressed at the initial operation. All patients had a repeat left thoracotomy with resection of the diverticulum. Five patients had division and reimplantation of the left subclavian artery into the left carotid artery to relieve the sling-like effect of the retroesophageal left subclavian artery on the right aortic arch. One other patient had primary Kommerell's diverticulum resection and transfer of the left subclavian artery to the left carotid artery. Results: The mean age at the initial operation was 1.7±0.9 years, and the mean age at reoperation was 8.0±3.7 years. In all patients postoperative bronchoscopy confirmed relief of the tracheal compression. There were no complications related to the subclavian artery transfer. Two patients developed postoperative chylothorax, one requiring thoracic duct ligation. The median hospital stay was 5 days. All patients had dramatic resolution of their preoperative symptoms. Conclusions: Kommerell's diverticulum is an important anatomic structure that can cause recurrent symptoms in patients with a right aortic arch after ligamentum division. In selected patients, reoperation with resection of the Kommerell's diverticulum and transfer of a retroesophageal left subclavian artery results in relief of symptoms. This technique has become our procedure of choice as a primary operation for children with a right aortic arch and a significant Kommerell's diverticulum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-69
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Kommerell's diverticulum
  • Right aortic arch
  • Vascular ring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Surgery


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