Examination of intercostal arteries with transthoracic Doppler sonography

Echocardiography. 2010 Jan;27(1):17-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8175.2009.00970.x. Epub 2009 Aug 31.


Objective: There has been no study on the measurement of blood flow of the intercostal artery (ICA) or lumbar artery (LA) with the use of transthoracic Doppler sonography. Here, the method of the ICA depiction and flow measurement were described, and we suggested the clinical usage of this method.

Methods: Twelve healthy subjects were examined. The performance of transthoracic Doppler sonography was approached from the back on lateral decubitus position. The intercostal artery was depicted by two-dimension mode with color flow, and the inner diameter was measured. Peak systolic velocity (PSV), end-diastolic velocity (EDV), velocity-time integral (VTI), and heart rate (HR) were measured with pulsed Doppler, and the blood flow was calculated.

Results: Bilateral ICAs and LAs from Th4 to L4 were measurable with this method. The PSV of Lt Th9 was the fastest at 43.3 +/- 10.1 cm/sec and the PSV of the ICAs gradually decreased as distance from Th9 increased. As for the flow volume, the left Th11 was the greatest at 99.7 mL/min, and the flow volume of the ICA gradually decreased as distance from Th11 increased. The velocity and blood flow of right ICA tended to be lower than the left in the same spinal level.

Conclusions: Evaluation technique of serial ICAs and LAs was shown. We think that it may be a clinically useful method in the study of spinal cord circulation in the repair of cases of descending thoracic or thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Intercostal Muscles / blood supply*
  • Intercostal Muscles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Male
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply*
  • Spinal Cord / diagnostic imaging*