The main pulmonary artery in adults: a controlled multicenter study with assessment of echocardiographic reference values, and the frequency of dilatation and aneurysm in Marfan syndrome

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2014 Dec 10;9:203. doi: 10.1186/s13023-014-0203-8.


Background: Echocardiographic upper normal limits of both main pulmonary artery (MPA) diameters (MPA-d) and ratio of MPA to aortic root diameter (MPA-r) are not defined in healthy adults. Accordingly, frequency of MPA dilatation based on echocardiography remains to be assessed in adults with Marfan syndrome (MFS).

Methods: We enrolled 123 normal adults (72 men, 52 women aged 42 ± 14 years) and 98 patients with MFS (42 men, 56 women aged 39 ± 14 years) in a retrospective cross-sectional observational controlled study in four tertiary care centers. We defined outcome measures including upper normal limits of MPA-d and MPA-r as 95 quantile of normal persons, MPA dilatation as diameters > upper normal limits, MPA aneurysm as diameters >4 cm, and indication for surgery as MPA diameters >6 cm.

Results: MPA diameters revealed normal distribution without correlation to age, sex, body weight, body height, body mass index and body surface area. The upper normal limit was 2.6 cm (95% confidence interval (CI) =2.44-2.76 cm) for MPA-d, and 1.05 (95% CI = .86-1.24) for MPA-r. MPA dilatation presented in 6 normal persons (4.9%) and in 68 MFS patients (69.4%; P < .001), MPA aneurysm presented only in MFS (15 patients; 15.3%; P < .001), and no patient required surgery. Mean MPA-r were increased in MFS (P < .001), but ratios >1.05 were equally frequent in 7 normal persons (5%) and in 8 MFS patients (10.5%; P = .161). MPA-r related to aortic root diameters (P = .042), reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (P = .006), and increased pulmonary artery systolic pressures (P = .040). No clinical manifestations of MFS and no FBN1 mutation characteristics related to MPA diameters.

Conclusions: We established 2.6 cm for MPA-d and 1.05 for MPA-r as upper normal limits. MFS exhibits a high prevalence of MPA dilatation and aneurysm. However, patients may require MPA surgery only in scarce circumstances, most likely because formation of marked MPA aneurysm may require LV dysfunction and increased PASP.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aortic Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aortic Aneurysm / physiopathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Echocardiography / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marfan Syndrome / diagnostic imaging*
  • Marfan Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Artery / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiopathology
  • Reference Values
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vasodilation*
  • Young Adult