Ectopic origin of bronchial arteries: assessment with multidetector helical CT angiography

Ieneke J C Hartmann, Martine Remy-Jardin, Laura Menchini, Antoine Teisseire, Chadi Khalil, Jacques Remy
European Radiology 2007, 17 (8): 1943-53
The purpose of this study was to determine non-invasively the frequency of ectopic bronchial arteries (BA) (i.e., bronchial arteries originating at a level of the descending aorta other than T5-T6 or from any aortic collateral vessel) on multidetector-row CT angiograms (CTA) obtained in patients with hemoptysis. Over a 5-year period (2000-2005), 251 consecutive patients with hemoptysis underwent multidetector-row CT angiography of the thorax. From this population, 37 patients were excluded because of a suboptimal CTA examination (n = 19), the presence of extensive mediastinal disease (n = 15) or severe chest deformation (n = 3) precluding any precise analysis of the bronchial arteries at CTA. Our final study group included 214 patients who underwent a thin-collimated CT angiogram (contrast agent: 300 to 350 mg/ml) on a 4- (n = 56), 16- (n = 119) and 64- (n = 39) detector-row scanner. The site of origin and distribution of bronchial arteries were analyzed on transverse CT scans, maximum intensity projections and volume-rendered images. The site of the ostium of a bronchial artery was coded as orthotopic when the artery originated from the descending aorta between the levels of the fifth and sixth thoracic vertebrae; all other bronchial arteries were considered ectopic. From the studied population, 137 (64%) patients had only orthotopic bronchial arteries, whereas 77 patients (36%) had at least one bronchial artery of ectopic origin. A total of 147 ectopic arteries were depicted, originating as common bronchial trunks (n = 23; 19%) or isolated right or left bronchial arteries (n = 101; 81%). The most frequent sites of origin of the 124 ostiums were the concavity of the aortic arch (92/124; 74%), the subclavian artery (13/124; 10.5%) and the descending aorta (10/124; 8.5%). The isolated ectopic bronchial arteries supplied the ipsilateral lung in all but three cases. Bronchial artery embolization was indicated in 26 patients. On the basis of CTA information, (1) bronchial embolization was attempted in 24 patients; it was technically successful in 21 patients (orthotopic BAs: 6 patients; orthotopic and ectopic BAs: 3 patients; ectopic BAs: 12 patients) and failed in 3 patients due to an instable catheterization of the ectopic BAs; the absence of additional bronchial arterial supply and no abnormalities of nonbronchial systemic arteries at CTA avoided additional arteriograms in these 3 patients; (2) owing to the iatrogenic risk of the embolization procedure of ectopic BAs, the surgical ligation of the abnormal vessels was the favored therapeutic option in 2 patients. This study enabled the depiction of ectopic bronchial arteries in 36% of the studied population, important anatomical information prior to therapeutic decision making.

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