Does measurement of four-limb blood pressures at birth improve detection of aortic arch anomalies?

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To determine normal four-extremity blood pressure (BP) in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at birth and the utility of upper (UE) and lower extremity (LE) BP difference to screen for coarctation of the aorta (Co-A) and interrupted the aortic arch (IAA).


Retrospective study of BP at birth (n = 866), and case-control study of Co-A/IAA infants and matched controls (1:2).


Although BP increased with gestational age (R2 = 0.3, P<0.0001), the pressure gradient between UE and LE did not change with gestation (P = 0.68). Forty-six cases of Co-A/IAA were identified, with 92 controls. Pressure gradient was significantly higher in patients with Co-A/IAA (7.6 ± 14.8 versus 0.4 ± 10 mm Hg, P = 0.004). However, there was overlap between cases and controls resulting in low sensitivity (41.3% with ≥ 10 mm Hg gradient cutoff).


Evaluation of UE-LE BP gradient at birth is a poor screening test for Co-A/IAA with low sensitivity. Repeating fourlimb BP after ductal closure at 24 to 48 h along with SpO2 screening for critical congenital heart disease may increase sensitivity.

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