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Definition of Shunt, Blalock-Taussig

Shunt, Blalock-Taussig: A pioneering heart operation named after the American surgeon Alfred Blalock (1899-1964) and the pediatric cardiologist Helen B. Taussig (1898-1986).

Dr. Taussig designed and Dr. Blalock carried out the first "blue-baby" operation to treat a child born with a previously inoperable heart malformation (tetralogy of Fallot). The procedure joined an artery leaving the heart to an artery leading to the lungs to give the blood a second chance at oxygenation. The joining (anastomosis) was of the subclavian artery to the pulmonary artery. It was the first blue baby operation and came to be known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt.

This operation, which was first done on November 29, 1944 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, is a major landmark in the history of children's heart surgery.

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