Author(s): Fazio GP, Redberg RF, Winslow T, Schiller NB
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that atherosclerotic plaque in the thoracic aorta detected by transesophageal echocardiography is a marker for coronary artery disease. BACKGROUND: Previous pathologic and roentgenographic studies have suggested a relation between aortic plaque and coronary artery disease but have lacked clinical utility. METHODS: We performed transesophageal echocardiography on 61 patients (30 women and 31 men aged 22 to 83 years [mean 60 +/- 14]) who had previously undergone cardiac catheterization with coronary angiography. The clinical indications for angiography were angina (n = 26), valvular heart disease (n = 17), positive noninvasive evaluation for ischemia without angina (n = 6), postmyocardial infarction (n = 5), familial hypercholesterolemia (n = 4), coronary cameral fistula (n = 1), atrial myxoma (n = 1) and suspected aortic dissection (n = 1). All patients underwent transesophageal echocardiography with imaging of the thoracic aorta. The criteria used to diagnose atherosclerotic plaque on transesophageal echocardiography were the presence of linear or focal increased echo-density with lumen irregularity and thickening or calcification of the aortic intima. RESULTS: In 41 of the 61 patients, obstructive coronary artery disease was detected by angiography in at least one vessel (> 50\% left main coronary artery stenosis or > 70\% stenosis in the left anterior descending, right coronary or left circumflex artery distribution). In 37 of the 41, atherosclerotic plaque was detected in the thoracic aorta by transesophageal echocardiography. Twenty of the 61 patients had normal coronary angiographic findings or nonobstructive lumen irregularities. In 2 of these 20 patients, plaque was detected in the thoracic aorta on transesophageal echocardiography. The presence of aortic plaque on transesophageal study had a sensitivity of 90\% and a specificity of 90\% for angiographically proved obstructive coronary artery disease. The positive predictive value of aortic plaque for obstructive coronary artery disease was 95\% and the negative predictive value was 82\%. CONCLUSIONS: The detection of atherosclerotic plaque in the thoracic aorta by transesophageal echocardiography appears to be a marker for the identification of obstructive coronary artery disease and deserves further investigation.
This article was published in J Am Coll Cardiol
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy