Background: Pseudoaneurysms of the ascending aorta is a rare and serious complication after composite graft surgery for combined disorders of the aortic valve and ascending aorta.
Methods and results: Echocardiographic and Doppler findings are described in eight patients (seven men, one woman; mean age, 45 +/- 12 years) with documented pseudoaneurysm of the ascending aorta and are compared with those by aortography and at surgery. The diameter of the ascending aorta ranged from 6 to 14 cm. Pseudoaneurysm was diagnosed by echocardiography in seven cases (six transthoracic, one transesophageal), by aortography in five, and by both methods in all patients. All three patients not diagnosed by aortography had a single dehiscence at the aortic annulus anastomosis. Five patients had more than one site of origin of the pseudoaneurysm. Periannular dehiscence (n = 7) was identified by color flow Doppler in six cases and by aortography in only one, and coronary artery dehiscence (n = 6) was detected by echocardiography in three and by aortography in two arteries. Of the three patients with distal graft dehiscence, one was identified by aortography and none by echocardiography. In cases of dehiscence at the aortic annulus, continuous wave Doppler further supported the diagnosis by demonstrating two distinct jets, one through the prosthetic valve and another with higher velocity through the communication.
Conclusions: Echocardiography with Doppler can diagnose the presence of pseudoaneurysms complicating composite grafts and identify their proximal sites of origin. Furthermore, it complements aortography in the overall evaluation of patients with suspected pseudoaneurysm, particularly in those with single dehiscence of the graft at the aortic annulus anastomosis.