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Imaging strategies for vascular rings.

Thirty-nine patients have undergone operation for relief of tracheoesophageal compression resulting from vascular rings and related entities at the Mayo Clinic. Nineteen patients had a double aortic arch, 11 patients had a right aortic arch with an aberrant left subclavian artery, 5 patients had a left aortic arch with an aberrant right subclavian artery, 2 patients had a pulmonary artery sling, 1 patient had a right aortic arch with mirror-image branching and a left ligamentum arteriosum, and 1 patient had a left aortic arch, a right descending aorta, and a right ductus arteriosus. Diagnostic examinations included chest radiography, barium esophagography, angiography, and, more recently, transthoracic echocardiography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. A comparison among the various diagnostic techniques used in 12 patients during the last 12 years showed that angiography (n = 7), magnetic resonance imaging (n = 5), and computed tomography (n = 3) were the most reliable, as they always accurately delineated the anatomy. However, in the 6 patients who underwent transthoracic echocardiography, 1 of whom was an older child and 2 of whom were adults, the vascular abnormality was described correctly only once; in the other 5 patients, the results were false-negative or the technique failed to visualize the relevant vascular structures sufficiently. Currently, magnetic resonance imaging is our imaging technique of choice for the delineation of the vascular and tracheal anatomy in patients suspected of having a vascular ring.

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