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Diagnostic Testing

Good morning everyone! Thank you for coming back for another day of #AorticDiseaseAwarenessMonth! We hope you enjoyed the last two segments from Monday and Tuesday with Adham. Today we will be going over the three forms of diagnostic testing done for aortic disease.

CT Scans:

A CT scan gives doctors a 3D picture of your body. It’s essentially having many X-rays all at once. A CT chest and abdomen or ‘CT aorta’ allows for detailed visualization of the entire aorta from the chest down to the groin. CT scans are used to diagnose aortic dissections and to plan for aortic surgery, or as routine imaging for patients with known aortic aneurysms or other known conditions of the aorta. When patients undergo a CT scan, often a substance called “contrast dye” is injected into their arm while they are in the CT scanner, which allows for doctors to see the structure of the aorta in even greater detail. Below is a representative CT scan of an aortic dissection.

Source: Sorelius and Wanhainen “Challenging Current Conservative Management of Uncomplicated Acute Type B Aortic Dissections"

MRI scans:

An MRI scan is often used as an alternative to a CT scan. MRIs also provides great visualization of the aorta to fine detail. It uses a different technology than CT that does not involve X-ray radiation. Undergoing an MRI usually takes longer time and is quite noisy. MRI is not yet widely available at all hospitals and usually not employed in emergency situations. One reason why some people cannot undergo an MRI is if they have certain metals in their bodies such as a pacemaker.

Source: Mt Sinai Chest MRI

Echocardiography or “Echo”:

An echo uses an ultrasound to visualize the heart, its structures, measurements, and function. Echocardiography is quick and useful for assessing your heart and valves, including the aortic valve, and your ascending aorta as it leaves the heart. A transthoracic echo can done at bedside. However, it is not a scan of your whole aorta, so for that a CT or MRI scan is needed. Below is a depiction of an echo probe on a patient’s chest and the bottom image is a representative echo image of the aortic root and ascending aorta denoted as “asc Ao”.

Source: iStock Cardiac Ultrasound

Source: Multimodaility Imaging of Disease of Thoracic Aorta in Adults.." by Goldstein et al. 2015

And that’s what we have today for diagnostic testing of aortic conditions.

Please check out the Patient Guide and refer to page 49 for a more comprehensive summary of today's post.

Thank you for tuning in and we hope you enjoyed our educational posts. Have a wonderful rest of your week!

Duc Giao

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