Clinical Characteristics and Computed Tomography Findings in Adult Patients With an Aberrant Right Subclavian Artery: A Single-Center Retrospective Cohort Study

J Comput Assist Tomogr. 2023 May-Jun;47(3):382-389. doi: 10.1097/RCT.0000000000001435. Epub 2023 Jan 14.


Objective: We sought to determine the prevalence and possible features associated with symptoms in adult patients diagnosed with an aberrant right subclavian artery (ARSA).

Methods: In this single-center retrospective study, 386 adult patients were diagnosed with ARSA on chest CT scans performed between June 2016 and April 2021. Patients were grouped by the presence of symptoms, which included dysphagia, shortness of breath, cough, and upper airway wheezing. Four cardiothoracic radiologists reviewed the chest CT scans to assess features of ARSA. Agreement and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to determine interobserver variability and features associated with the presence of symptoms, respectively.

Results: The prevalence of ARSA was 1.02% and 81.3% of patients were asymptomatic. Shortness of breath (74.6%) was the most common symptom. Interobserver agreement was acceptable with most variables having an interclass correlation coefficient or κ >0.80. A patient's height > 158 cm (OR: 2.50, P = 0.03), cross-sectional area > 60 mm 2 of ARSA at the level of the esophagus (OR: 2.39, P = 0.046), and angle >108 degrees formed with the aortic arch (OR: 1.99, P = 0.03) were associated with the presence of symptoms on multivariable logistic regression. A distance increase per 1 mm between ARSA and trachea (OR: 0.85, P = 0.02) was associated with decreased odds of symptoms.

Conclusions: Aberrant right subclavian artery is an incidental finding in most adult patients. The cross-sectional area at the level of the esophagus, angle formed with the medial wall of the aortic arch, distance between the ARSA and the trachea, and a patient's height were features associated with the presence of symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dyspnea
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Subclavian Artery* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*

Supplementary concepts

  • Aberrant subclavian artery