Anomalous origin of the coronary arteries in children: diagnostic role of three-dimensional coronary MR angiography

Published:December 03, 2009DOI:


      When the anomalous origin of coronary arteries (AOCA) is suspected in children (especially athletes), due to signs and symptoms of myocardial ischemia or on the basis of echocardiographic assessment, three-dimensional coronary magnetic resonance angiography (3D-CMRA) can be proposed for the fine morphological evaluation of coronary branches anatomy and course.
      We tested the diagnostic potential of CMRA angiography in a prospective study on AOCA in young patients. Between July 2005 and June 2008, 15 patients aged 6–29 years (mean age, 13.5 years±5.6 S.D.; median, 14) with clinical and echocardiographic suspicion of AOCA underwent CMRA (1.5 T), 3D whole-heart, free-breathing technique, without the use of contrast medium and β-blockers, with a mean examination time of 30 min. We acquired a second scan of all patients to ameliorate the quality of the acquisition and to improve our experience.
      AOCA was confirmed by 3D-CMRA in 8 out of 15 cases (53%) and three different anatomical variants were demonstrated, that is, ectopic origin of the left circumflex artery arising from the right coronary artery with retro-aortic course in four cases, single coronary artery arising from the right sinus of Valsalva with interarterial course in one case, ectopic right coronary artery arising from the left sinus of Valsalva with interarterial course in one case; in two patients without anomalies of origin of the coronary arteries, elongated LMCA with angulation of the proximal segment of the left circumflex artery was present.
      When AOCA is suspected particularly in children (especially athletes), CMRA without the use of contrast medium is an effective diagnostic technique, which is useful to clarify the spatial position of the anomalous course of the main coronary branches in order to suggest the most convenient management of the disease. CMRA does not need contrast medium, needles, and β-blockers; is repeatable in the same examination without the exposure to X-rays; allows a parent to stay near the child; and needs low collaboration in low-stress conditions.


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