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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Aberrant subclavian artery

Other Names for this Disease
  • Aberrant left subclavian artery
  • Aberrant right subclavian artery
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Your Question

I was recently diagnosed with pulmonary embolism. I am taking coumadin.  My CAT Scan showed this aberrant right subclavian artery.  I was wondering what it is and can it cause shortness of breath.  I also have a hiatal hernia and I'm being treated for Barrett's esophagus.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is aberrant subclavian artery?

Aberrant subclavian artery is a rare vascular anomaly that is present from birth. It usually causes no symptoms and is often discovered as an incidental finding (such as through a barium swallow or echocardiogram). Occasionally the anomaly causes swallowing difficulty (dysphagia lusoria).[1][2] Swallowing symptoms in children may present as feeding difficulty and/or recurrent respiratory tract infection.[2] When aberrant subclavian artery causes no symptoms, treatment is not needed. If the anomaly is causing significant symptoms, treatment may involve surgery.[1][2] Children with symptomatic aberrant subclavian artery should be carefully evaluated for additional vascular and heart anomalies.[2]
Last updated: 6/30/2011

Can aberrant right subclavian artery cause shortness of breath?

If you are experiencing shortness of breath, we strongly urge you to report this symptom to your healthcare provider. Based upon our search of the literature, aberrant subclavian artery is not commonly associated with shortness of breath although, respiratory infections secondary to aberrant subclavian artery could cause this symptom. Pulmonary embolism can cause shortness of breath.[3] Also, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is commonly associated with Barrett esophagus, can cause this symptom.[4] We encourage you to work with your healthcare provider in determining the cause of your breathing problems.
Last updated: 6/29/2011

  • Pramesh CS, Saklani AP, Parmar V, Acharya S, Badwe RA. Aberrant subclavian artery causing difficulty in transhiatal esophageal dissection. Diseases of the Esophagus. 2003;16:173-176;
  • Woods RK, Sharp RJ, Holcomb GW, Snyder CL, Laofland GK, Ashcraft KW, Holder TM. Vascular anomalies and tracheoesophageal compression: A single institution's 25-year experience. Ann Thorac Surg. 2001;72:434-9;
  • Pulmonary embolism. MedlinePlus. Accessed 6/29/2011.
  • Barrett's Esophagus. NYU Langone Medical Center. Accessed 6/29/2011.