A Deep Dive Into Retroesophageal Major Aortopulmonary Collateral Arteries

World J Pediatr Congenit Heart Surg. 2023 Nov;14(6):729-735. doi: 10.1177/21501351231183970. Epub 2023 Jul 27.


Background: The anatomy of major aortopulmonary collateral arteries (MAPCAs) can be highly variable with regard to number, anatomic origin, course, and relationship to the native pulmonary arteries. Some MAPCAs travel behind the esophagus (retroesophageal) and bronchus before entering the lung parenchyma. The purpose of this paper was to review the anatomy, physiology, and surgical characteristics of retroesophageal MAPCAs. Methods: This manuscript summarizes the data from a series of three papers that have focused on the subject of retroesophageal MAPCAs from our institution over the past ten years. Results: Two-thirds of patients evaluated had a retroesophageal MAPCA identified at surgery. Retroesophageal major aortopulmonary collateral arteries (REMs) were more common with a left arch (77%) compared with a right arch (53%). Of all REMs evaluated, 83% were single supply, 13% were dual supply with an inadequate connection, and 4% were dual supply with an adequate connection. Based on these findings, 96% of retroesophageal MAPCAs were unifocalized. Follow-up catheterization was performed at a median of 17 months after surgery; 75% of unifocalized MAPCAs were widely patent, 20% were patent but stenotic, and 5% were occluded. Conclusions: The data demonstrate that retroesophageal MAPCAs are relatively common and almost always require unifocalization. At mid-term follow-up, 95% of unifocalized MAPCAs were found to be patent.

Keywords: cardiopulmonary bypass; congenital heart disease; congenital heart surgery; major aortopulmonary collateral arteries; pulmonary arteries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aorta, Thoracic / surgery
  • Collateral Circulation / physiology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Pulmonary Artery / surgery
  • Pulmonary Atresia* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies