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Screening for thoracic aortic pathology: Clinical practice in a single tertiary center

Lidia R. Bons1, Lucas Uchoa de Assis1, Silvy Dekker1, Robert M. Kauling1, Judith A.A.E. Cuypers1, Hence J.M. Verhagen2, Ricardo P.J. Budde3, Jolien W. Roos‐Hesselink1

1 Department of Cardiology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2 Department of Vascular Surgery, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
3 Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

* Corresponding Author: J.W. Roos‐Hesselink, Cardiology, Erasmus MC, Rg‐435, Doctor Molewaterplein 40, 3015 GD Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Email: email

Congenital Heart Disease 2018, 13(6), 988-996.


Objective: The aim is to present current clinical practice of thoracic aorta screening in a tertiary referral center. We identified how often imaging techniques were used for screening and established the value of transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) in com‐ parison with computed tomography (CT) to detect aortic dilation. We also investigated which additional abnormalities of the heart, aorta or smaller arteries were discovered.
Design: All patients ≥15 years who visited our tertiary center in 2012‐2016 for first thoracic aortic screening were retrospectively included. Diameters of the sinus of Valsalva (SoV) and maximum ascending aorta (AA) were compared between TTE and CT. The sensitivity and specificity of TTE to detect aortic dilation (≥40 mm) was as‐ sessed with CT as reference standard. Intracardiac abnormalities found with TTE and arterial abnormalities found with CT were identified.
Results: In total 349 patients (155 men, age 41 ± 15 years, 10% genetic mutation) were included. Screening was performed with TTE only in 35% and with TTE and CT in 65%. Patients who underwent TTE only were younger, had less often hypertension and less often a family history of aortic pathology. Although there was a good correlation be‐ tween TTE and CT, the diameters measured with TTE were typically lower (SoV −1.0, 95%CI −6.6 to 4.7 and AA −0.4, 95%CI −6.5 to 5.8). Sensitivity of TTE for detecting aortic dilation was 61% (SoV) and 57% (AA) and specificity was 96% (SoV) and 100% (AA). Valve abnormalities, ventricular dilation or reduced ventricular function was found with TTE in 26 patients (7%). In 47 patients (13%) ascending aortic dilation was diagnosed and in 10 patients (4%) relevant peripheral arterial abnormalities were identified using CT.
Conclusions: Most often patients received both TTE and CT (65%). Since TTE showed a low sensitivity to detect aortic dilation, CT imaging is advised at least once in pa‐ tients referred for thoracic aortic screening.


Cite This Article

APA Style
Bons, L.R., Assis, L.U.D., Dekker, S., Kauling, R.M., Cuypers, J.A. et al. (2018). Screening for thoracic aortic pathology: clinical practice in a single tertiary center. Congenital Heart Disease, 13(6), 988-996.
Vancouver Style
Bons LR, Assis LUD, Dekker S, Kauling RM, Cuypers JA, Verhagen HJ, et al. Screening for thoracic aortic pathology: clinical practice in a single tertiary center. Congeni Heart Dis. 2018;13(6):988-996
IEEE Style
L.R. Bons et al., "Screening for thoracic aortic pathology: Clinical practice in a single tertiary center," Congeni. Heart Dis., vol. 13, no. 6, pp. 988-996. 2018.

cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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