Value of aortic arch analysis during routine transthoracic echocardiography in adults

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AimsDespite the recommendations of the American Society of Echocardiography, the majority of clinicians and sonographers do not perform aortic arch analysis routinely during transthoracic echocardiography (TTE). The European guidelines remain unclear. The aim of our study is to evaluate the usefulness of aortic arch analysis during routine TTE in adults.Methods and resultsWe performed aortic arch analysis on all 2000 adult patients (mean age 52, range 18–89) referred to our echocardiography lab for transthoracic echocardiograms between January and December 2007. Adequate study was obtained in 1826 patients (91% of cases). Suprasternal notch views and aortic arch analysis were normal in 1787 patients (98%) and abnormal in 39 patients (2%). Among patients with abnormal findings, 32 patients (82%) had aortic arch plaques, 24 of them (75%) had plaques <4 mm, and 8 patients (25%) had plaques ≥4 mm. Four patients (10%) had aortic arch aneurysms (diameter ≥4.5 cm). Other abnormal findings included one case of coarctation of the aorta, one case of a floating thrombus in a right pulmonary artery branch, one case of severe stenosis of the inominate artery, and one case of type A aortic dissection. Subsequently, 7 patients (18%) underwent surgery, 4 patients (10%) were started on oral anticoagulation therapy, and 28 patients (72%) treated with an antiplatelet and risk factors modification.ConclusionAortic arch analysis showed significant pathology in 2% of the adult population undergoing routine TTE. This led to therapeutic interventions in all patients with abnormal findings, and to curative therapy in more than quarter of them. Aortic arch analysis should be mandatory during a routine exam and part of any standard digital acquisition protocol for TTE in adults.

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