Isolated ascending aorta dilatation is associated with increased risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm

J Cardiothorac Surg. 2021 Apr 23;16(1):108. doi: 10.1186/s13019-021-01488-w.


Background: Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is an asymptomatic condition characterized by progressive dilatation of the aorta. The purpose of this study is to identify important 2D-TTE aortic indices associated with AAA as predictive tools for undiagnosed AAA.

Methods: In this retrospective study, we evaluated the size of the ascending aorta in patients without known valvular diseases or hemodynamic compromise as predictive tool for undiagnosed AAA. We studied the tubular ascending aorta of 170 patients by 2-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography (2D-TTE). Patients were further divided into two groups, 70 patients with AAA and 100 patients without AAA with normal imaging results.

Results: Dilatation of tubular ascending aorta was measured in patients with AAA compared to the group with absent AAA (37.5 ± 4.8 mm vs. 31.2 ± 3.6 mm, p < 0.001, respectively) and confirmed by computed tomographic (CT) (35.6 ± 5.1 mm vs. 30.8 ± 3.7 mm, p < 0.001, respectively). An increase in tubular ascending aorta size was associated with the presence of AAA by both 2D-TTE and CT (r = 0.40, p < 0.001 and r = 0.37, p < 0.001, respectively). The tubular ascending aorta (D diameter) size of ≥33 mm or ≥ 19 mm/m2 presented with 2-4 times more risk of AAA presence (OR 4.68, CI 2.18-10.25, p = 0.001 or OR 2.63, CI 1.21-5.62, p = 0.02, respectively). In addition, multiple logistic regression analysis identified tubular ascending aorta (OR 1.46, p < 0.001), age (OR 1.09, p = 0.013), gender (OR 0.12, p = 0.002), and LVESD (OR 1.24, p = 0.009) as independent risk factors of AAA presence.

Conclusions: An increased tubular ascending aortic diameter, measured by 2D-TTE, is associated with the presence of AAA. Routine 2D-TTE screening for silent AAA by means of ascending aorta analysis, may appear useful especially in older patients with a dilated tubular ascending aorta (≥33 mm).

Keywords: Abdominal aortic aneurysm; Aortic dilatation; Computed tomography; Screening; Transthoracic echocardiography.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aorta / diagnostic imaging
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / complications*
  • Dilatation
  • Dilatation, Pathologic / complications*
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed