Fifteen patients aged 1-19 years (mean 10.9) with previously unoperated aortic coarctation underwent percutaneous balloon angioplasty between January 1985 and February 1986. Nine (60%) were hypertensive at presentation. Under general anaesthetic the systolic coarctation gradient was 24-50 mm Hg (mean 29) and the coarctation diameter was 4-9 mm (mean 5.5). Meditech balloon catheters 8-18 mm in diameter were inflated 1-4 times at 410-760 kPa. After dilatation the systolic coarctation gradient decreased to 0-20 mm Hg (mean 6) and the coarctation diameter increased to 7-20 mm (mean 12). One patient developed a fusiform aneurysm of the aorta at the coarctation site immediately after the procedure. At reinvestigation 6-16 months (mean 12.5) after dilatation 14 of the 15 patients were normotensive. In 13 patients the residual coarctation gradient was 0-10 mm Hg (mean 3). Two patients had recoarctation with residual gradients of 20 and 24 mm Hg and underwent successful repeat dilatation. One patient had developed a small discrete aneurysm at the coarctation site. Balloon angioplasty is thus a safe and effective method of relieving unoperated aortic coarctation. The frequency of aortic aneurysm and recoarctation is small and probably related to balloon size. This early experience is encouraging, but long term results and further experience are required before this approach is used to treat coarctation generally.
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