Bicarotid trunk: how much is "not uncommon"?

Ann Thorac Surg. 2014 Mar;97(3):945-9. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2013.12.014. Epub 2014 Jan 28.


Background: Bicarotid trunk is the most common variation of aortic arch branching patterns. Bicarotid trunk can be a decisive factor in the surgical management of congenital heart defects. Our objective was to determine the prevalence of the bicarotid trunk among pediatric patients with congenital heart defects and to identify whether there is an association between bicarotid trunk and aortic coarctation.

Methods: From a total of 4,371 pediatric cardiac catheterizations between the years 1979 and 2010, a group of 2,033 patients were selected. Prevalence of the aortic coarctation in patients with bicarotid trunk and with a normal branching pattern was determined by evaluating the catheterization reports. In addition, associated congenital defects, vascular anomalies, and genetic syndromes were also assessed.

Results: Of 2,033 patients in our database, 84.8% of patients had a normal branching pattern of the aortic arch and 15.2% had a bicarotid trunk. The most frequent congenital heart defects in patients with a bicarotid trunk were ventricular septal defects, valvular pulmonary stenosis, and atrial septal defect. The most common associated vascular anomaly was the aberrant right subclavian artery. Most frequent genetic syndromes were trisomy 21, Williams syndrome, and CHARGE syndrome.

Conclusions: The prevalence of bicarotid trunk of 17.6% among patients with aortic coarctation and 15.2% among the entire population studied made it not at all a rare phenomenon. Because bicarotid trunk can be a risk factor for surgery, the anatomy of the aortic arch needs to be clearly depicted and described. If ultrasonography examination cannot exclude bicarotid trunk, enhanced magnetic resonance imaging or aortic arch angiography may be necessary.

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / epidemiology*
  • Aorta, Thoracic / abnormalities*
  • Aortic Coarctation / epidemiology*
  • Aortic Coarctation / etiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies