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Ann Thorac Surg. 2002 Mar;73(3):881-6.

Bronchial compression by posteriorly displaced ascending aorta in patients with congenital heart disease.

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Department of Radiology, Pediatrics, and Cardiac Surgery, Sejong General Hospital & Sejong Heart Institute, Pucheon, South Korea.



We encountered several patients with posteriorly displaced ascending aorta and bronchial compression associated with congenital heart disease. We describe the helical computed tomography (CT) findings and explore the mechanism of airway compression.


We retrospectively reviewed the clinical data and CT findings of 8 patients with posterior displacement of the ascending aorta. The bronchial stenosis was quantified on reformatted images perpendicular to the main-stem bronchi. On an axial image at the level of main bronchi, we measured depth of retrosternal space, interaortic distance, and aorto-spinal distance. To compare with control, we measured the same variables in 10 control patients.


In 7 patients, the main bronchus on the side of the aortic arch was squeezed between the ascending and descending aorta and showed slit-like stenosis. The right pulmonary artery was elongated around the ascending aorta in 5 patients and showed slit-like stenosis in 3. Patients with posterior displacement had significantly larger retrosternal space, smaller interaortic distance, and smaller aorto-spinal distance than did the control group. Aortopexy was undertaken in 3 patients. Follow-up computed tomograms of 2 patients showed improvement.


The posteriorly displaced ascending aorta may compress the main bronchus on the side of the aortic arch and right pulmonary artery against the descending aorta or spine. Even if the bronchial compression is mild with tolerable airway symptoms, these patients must be closely observed. When airway symptoms are severe, aortopexy should be considered.

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