Objectives: The study was done to determine the most "cost-effective" approach to follow adults after repair of coarctation of the aorta.
Background: Recoarctation and/or aneurysm formation following surgical repair or angioplasty for coarctation of the aorta carry a significant morbidity and mortality. Various screening tests to detect such complications are used, but little is known of their sensitivities and specificities; as a consequence, the most "cost-effective" approach to follow such patients is undefined.
Methods: Retrospective analysis was done on the sensitivity and specificity of symptomatology, physical examination, electrocardiogram, chest radiograph, exercise testing and transthoracic echocardiography to detect recoarctation and/or aneurysm formation in 84 adult patients following surgical repair or angioplasty of coarctation of the aorta, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the gold standard test.
Results: Echocardiography had the highest sensitivity in detecting recoarctation (87%) and chest radiograph the highest sensitivity in detecting aneurysm formation (67%). Combined clinical visit and echocardiography had a high sensitivity for diagnosing recoarctation and/or aneurysm formation (97%), but performing a clinical visit and an MRI on every patient without any prior screening test emerged as the most "cost-effective" strategy.
Conclusions: The most "cost-effective" approach to diagnose complications at the site of repair in patients after surgical repair or balloon angioplasty of coarctation of the aorta appears to be the combination of clinical assessment and MRI scan on every patient. If MRI resources are scant, performing a clinical assessment plus a transthoracic echocardiography and an MRI on patients with positive results is an acceptable alternative.