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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Nov;22(5):535-46.

Fetal sonographic diagnosis of aortic arch anomalies.

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Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.


Aortic arch anomalies refer to congenital abnormalities of the position or branching pattern, or both of the aortic arch. Although aortic arch anomalies are not uncommon, reports on their prenatal diagnosis are scarce. Insight into the hypothetical arch model is crucial to understanding anomalies of the aortic arch in the fetus. Recognition of the trachea, three major vessels, ductus arteriosus and descending aorta in the axial views of the upper mediastinum is necessary for a complete fetal cardiac assessment. Clues to aortic arch anomalies include abnormal position of the descending aorta, absence of the normal 'V'-shaped confluence of the ductal and aortic arches, a gap between the ascending aorta and main pulmonary artery in the three-vessel view, and an abnormal vessel behind the trachea with or without a vascular loop or ring around the trachea. Meticulous attention to anatomic landmarks will lead to successful prenatal diagnosis of important vascular rings making early postnatal management possible.

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