Congenital diseases of the thoracic aorta. Role of MRI and MRA

Eur Radiol. 2006 Mar;16(3):676-84. doi: 10.1007/s00330-005-0027-y. Epub 2005 Oct 26.


Aortic malformations may be associated with other congenital heart abnormalities or may present independently, as incidental findings in asymptomatic patients. For more than 30 years, conventional imaging techniques for detection and assessment of congenital anomalies of the aorta have been chest X-ray, echocardiography and angiography. In recent times, considerable interest in congenital aortic diseases has been shown, due to technical progresses of noninvasive imaging modalities. Among them, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) almost certainly offers the greatest advantages, especially in young patients in which a radiation exposure must be avoided as much as possible. MRI provides an excellent visualization of vascular structures with a wide field of view, well suited for evaluation of the thoracic aorta malformations. With the implementation of magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) it is also possible to depict any relationship with supra-aortic or mediastinal vessels. Phase contrast technique allows identification of the hemodynamic significance of the aortic alteration. Some technical considerations, which include fast spin-echo, gradient-echo and, especially, MRA techniques with phase-contrast and contrast enhanced methods, are discussed and applied in the evaluation of congenital thoracic aorta diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aorta, Thoracic / abnormalities*
  • Aortic Diseases / congenital*
  • Aortic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Contrast Media
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*


  • Contrast Media