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Circulation. 2001 Jan 23;103(3):393-400.

Structural abnormalities of great arterial walls in congenital heart disease: light and electron microscopic analyses.

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Ahmanson/UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.



Great arteries in congenital heart disease (CHD) may dilate, become aneurysmal, or rupture. Little is known about medial abnormalities in these arterial walls. Accordingly, we studied 18 types of CHD in patients from neonates to older adults.


Intraoperative biopsies from ascending aorta, paracoarctation aorta, truncus arteriosus, and pulmonary trunk in 86 patients were supplemented by 16 necropsy specimens. The 102 patients were 3 weeks to 81 years old (average, 32+/-6 years). Biopsies were examined by light (LM) and electron (EM) microscopy; necropsy specimens by LM. Positive aortic controls were from 15 Marfan patients. Negative aortic controls were from 11 coronary artery disease patients and 1 transplant donor. Nine biopsies from acquired trileaflet aortic stenosis were compared with biopsies from bicuspid aortic stenosis. Negative pulmonary trunk controls were from 7 coronary artery disease patients. A grading system consisted of negative controls and grades 1, 2, and 3 (positive controls) based on LM and EM examination of medial constituents.


Medial abnormalities in ascending aorta, paracoarctation aorta, truncus arteriosus, and pulmonary trunk were prevalent in patients with a variety of forms of CHD encompassing a wide age range. Aortic abnormalities may predispose to dilatation, aneurysm, and rupture. Pulmonary trunk abnormalities may predispose to dilatation and aneurysm; hypertensive aneurysms may rupture. Pivotal questions are whether these abnormalities are inherent or acquired, whether CHD plays a causal or facilitating role, and whether genetic determinants are operative.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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