Innominate artery atheroma: A lesion seen with gadolinium-enhanced MR angiography and often missed by transesophageal echocardiography


      Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is the procedure of choice for identifying aortic atheromas, which may result in stroke, transient ischemic attack and peripheral embolization. However, because of anatomic constraints, the innominate artery may not be visualized. We investigated gadolinium-enhanced MR angiography (MRA) as an alternative technique for evaluation of suspected atheromas of the innominate artery. From a retrospective review of 520 examinations, we identified five patients who had innominate artery atheromas diagnosed prospectively with gadolinium-enhanced MRA who also underwent TEE within 1 month. A total of 10 innominate artery atheromas were demonstrated on MRA; none of these were visualized on TEE. One patient had three atheromas, two patients had two atheromas and three patients had one atheroma. They ranged in size from 3 mm to 1.5 cm (mean 6.5 mm). One atheroma was flat, two were filiform, and seven were protruding. Gadolinium-enhanced MRA is superior to TEE for the diagnosis of atheromas of the innominate artery. In the setting of right cerebral or right arm embolization, when no source is seen in the arch on TEE, gadolinium-enhanced MRA should be considered.


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