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Original research
Echocardiographic screening for the anomalous aortic origin of coronary arteries
  1. Francesco Bianco1,2,
  2. Massimo Colaneri2,
  3. Valentina Bucciarelli1,2,
  4. Francesca Chiara Surace2,
  5. Federica Valentina Iezzi2,
  6. Martina Primavera1,
  7. Annaclara Biasi1,
  8. Giuliano Giusti2,
  9. Emanuela Berton2,
  10. Monica Baldoni2,
  11. Giulia Renda1,
  12. Alessandra Baldinelli2,
  13. Sabina Gallina1 and
  14. Marco Pozzi2
  1. 1Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, Universita degli Studi Gabriele d'Annunzio Chieti e Pescara, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
  2. 2Pediatric and Congenital Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Ospedali Riuniti di Ancona Umberto I G M Lancisi G Salesi, Ancona, Marche, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Francesco Bianco; dr.francescobianco{at}


Aims We sought to determine the diagnostic performance, clinical profiles and outcomes of anomalous aortic origin of coronary arteries (AAOCA) using a standardised echocardiographic approach in young adults and athletes.

Methods In 2015–2019, we screened 5998 outpatients (age 16 years (Q1–Q3: 11, 36)), referred for routine echocardiography, using four specific echocardiographic windows: parasternal short/long axis and apical 4/5-chambers view. Coronary CT confirmed AAOCA. For the performance analysis, 300 coronary-CT scans were available; two independent and double-blinded physicians retrospectively reviewed echocardiographic images.

Results A total of 47 AAOCA was diagnosed; the overall prevalence was 0.0078%. Over 5 years, we found a significant increment of AAOCA diagnostic rate (P for trend=0.002). Syncope (n=17/47) and palpitations (n=6/47) were prevalent symptoms. All patients suspended sports activity at the diagnosis. Twenty-seven patients underwent surgery, while 20 underwent a conservative medical treatment. All patients are alive at a median follow-up of 3±1.6 years; only surgical repairs restarted their activity. Our method showed better sensitivity than traditional short-axis evaluation: 93% vs 83%, p=0.0030 (AUC 0.96 (95% CI 0.92, 0.99) and AUC 0.89 (95% CI 0.83, 0.95), respectively), with a good interobserver agreement (95%, k=0.83, p<0.001).

Conclusions The application of a standardised echocardiographic approach for AAOCA detection led to a significantly increased rate of identified anomalies. This approach demonstrated higher sensitivity than the traditional echocardiographic assessment. Implementing this protocol in clinical practice may help improve the AAOCA diagnosis in young adults and athletes.

Trial registration number NCT04224090.

  • echocardiography
  • congenital heart disease
  • coronary artery disease

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  • Collaborators Alessandro Capestro, Elli Soura, Ettore Merlino, Gaetano Santoro.

  • Contributors FB and MC designed the study and drafted the manuscript. FB performed the statistical analysis. VB, FCS and FV revised the manuscript and contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the data. ACB and MP contributed to the retrospective analysis. EB, GG, MB and AB contributed to the clinical evaluation and support to the recruitment of patients. GR and AB were involved in critical revision and data interpretation. SG and MP revised the final manuscript and supported the study design.

  • Funding This study was conducted with the support of Regione Marche, Italy (grant reference: 4/SPV 15/02/2019).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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