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Approach to the dilated aortic root

Boyer, John Ka; Gutierrez, Fernandob; Braverman, Alan Ca

doi: 10.1097/01.hco.0000139724.27066.e4
Diseases of the aorta, pulmonary, and peripheral vessels

Purpose of review The dilated aortic root is often completely asymptomatic and found incidentally on routine imaging studies such as chest radiograph, echocardiography, chest computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging. The dilated aortic root may be associated with underlying aortic valve abnormalities as seen with bicuspid aortic valve. It may also lead to the awareness of important underlying connective tissue disorders like the Marfan syndrome. It is imperative that the dilated aortic root be observed carefully over time with serial imaging studies and that timely resection of the aneurysm be carried out before catastrophic complications such as aortic dissection, aortic rupture, or congestive heart failure from aortic insufficiency occur.

Recent findings In recent years, the advent of molecular genetics has heightened awareness of familial aortic disease such as the Marfan syndrome, bicuspid aortic valve disease, and hereditary aortic aneurysm and dissection. In addition to hypertension and inflammatory aortic disease, these hereditary aortopathies are important to consider in the evaluation of patients with a dilated aorta and have implications for screening of the relatives of the patient with aortic aneurysm.

Summary Because there is often uncertainty regarding the dilated aortic root, this review will summarize the approach to diagnosis, evaluation, and management of aortic root aneurysms. Clinical features, diagnostic approaches, screening of relatives, and long term follow-up will be highlighted.

aCardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, and the bMallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Tel: 314 362 1291; fax: 314 362 4619; e-mail:

Correspondence to Alan Braverman, Professor of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, Box 8086, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.