Aortic coarctation misdiagnosed as a descending thoracic aorta aneurysm

Rev Port Cardiol. 2012 May;31(5):381-4. doi: 10.1016/j.repc.2011.06.002.


Aortic coarctation (AC) represents -7% of congenital cardiac diseases and is usually diagnosed in childhood or early adult Life, depending on the severity of obstruction and associated malformations. Left untreated fewer than 20% of patients survive to age 50. We describe a case of thoracic AC, diagnosed at age 61, in a woman with known hypertension since age 45. At age 56 the patient was admitted with a subarachnoid hemorrhage and, during cerebral angiography, a thoracic aortic aneurysm was detected. Four years later the patient was referred to the outpatient hypertension clinic due to uncontrolled hypertension and cardiac failure. The echocardiogram disclosed left ventricular hypertrophy and aggressive treatment failed to control her hypertension. At age 61, due to lower limb muscular fatigue, arterial Doppler ultrasound was performed that revealed symmetrically decreased ankle/brachial pressure index, suggesting aortic stenosis. MRI angiography enabled a diagnosis of AC with a large poststenotic dilation which had been interpreted as an aortic aneurysm in successive CT scans. The authors highlight the unusually late clinical presentation and misdiagnosis despite extensive radiologic investigation. The subarachnoid hemorrhage was probably a disease manifestation, since berry aneurysms are among the noncardiac malformations associated with AC.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Aneurysm, Thoracic / diagnosis*
  • Aortic Coarctation / diagnosis*
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged