Objective: To determine the normal anatomical features and variations of the bronchial arterial system and to determine the relationship among ectopic bronchial arteries, location (right-left) of the bronchial arteries, and variations of the aortic arch in patients as well as the sex of the patients who underwent multidetector computed tomographic angiography of the thorax for various reasons.
Methods: A total of 163 patients who underwent multidetector computed tomographic angiography of the thoracic vascular structures for various reasons were analyzed retrospectively. The right and left bronchial arteries were analyzed individually, and normal anatomic features and variations were recorded. The χ2 and Mann-Whitney U tests were used to evaluate relationships among the patients' sex, side and number of the bronchial arteries, aortic arch variations, and bronchial artery variations.
Results: There were 432 bronchial arteries (right, 229; left, 203) in 163 patients (117 men, 46 women; mean age, 51.7 years). All of the patients have at least one bronchial artery (mean, 2.65; maximum, 5). The number and diameters of the bronchial arteries were statistically higher on the right side. The number of the bronchial arteries was significantly higher in the men (P < 0.05). Ectopic bronchial arteries were present in 43 (26.4%) of the 163 patients. Aortic arch variations were present in 27 (22.5%) of 120 patients with normal bronchial arteries and in 11 (25.6%) of the 43 patients with ectopic bronchial arteries. There was no statistically significant correlation between aortic arch variations and ectopic bronchial arteries (P = 0.861).
Conclusions: The anatomic features of the bronchial arteries show differences between individuals and the sexes. Multidetector computed tomographic angiography allows a precise and detailed evaluation of bronchial arterial system.