Usefulness of Transcranial Doppler for Detecting Pulmonary Arteriovenous Malformations in Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia

Yasufumi Kijima, Rubine Gevorgyan, Justin Pryce McWilliams, Nicholas Miller, Nabil Noureddin, Jonathan Marvin Tobis
American Journal of Cardiology 2016 April 1, 117 (7): 1180-4
The aim of this study was to assess transcranial Doppler (TCD) as a screening test for pulmonary arteriovenous malformation (PAVM) in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT). This retrospective study included suspected patients with HHT who were screened for PAVM with a TCD and a chest computed tomography (CT) study. The results of TCD and CT were compared to evaluate the usefulness of TCD for detecting PAVM. A TCD Spencer grade ≥3 was defined as positive for a significant right-to-left shunt (RLS). The diameter of the pulmonary arteries feeding the PAVM was measured by calipers from the CT study. In 86 subjects from 74 families with HHT, the sensitivity of TCD for identifying a PAVM at rest was 98% and post-Valsalva was 100%. Specificity was 58% and 35%, respectively, presumably due to pulmonary shunts too small to recognize on CT. Of the patients with HHT who were referred for embolization therapy for their PAVMs, all 20 had TCD grade ≥3. In patients who were diagnosed with a PAVM by chest CT, patients with TCD grade ≥5 had a significantly larger sum of artery diameters feeding the PAVMs compared to those with grade ≤4 (5.0 ± 3.2 mm vs 2.6 ± 1.9 mm, p = 0.01). In conclusion, a TCD examination for evaluating RLS is sensitive for identifying PAVM in patients with HHT and is useful in quantitating the degree of RLS flow. The sensitivity of the TCD examination makes it a useful screening test without radiation in HHT subjects to determine which patients need to undergo CT evaluation to identify PAVMs.

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