Objective—To find how closely pressure gradients across the aortic arch derived from Doppler echocardiography reflect gradients measured by catheter after surgical repair of coarctation of the aorta.
Design—Pressure drop across the aortic arch was measured simultaneously by continuous wave Doppler and double lumen catheter in 20 patients with repaired coarctation of the aorta.
Results—The peak pressure drop estimated by Doppler was almost invariably higher than the peak to peak gradient measured by catheter, as might be expected. Wide variation was seen between the Doppler measured pressure drop and instantaneous peak gradient measured by catheter, ranging from +22 to −17 mm Hg. The reasons for these differences are unclear but are probably related to a combination of complex flow dynamics in the aortic arch, difficulty in closely aligning the Doppler beam with flow, and inability to measure flow velocity immediately proximal to the site of the surgical repair with continuous wave Doppler.
Conclusions—Continuous wave Doppler echocardiography may significantly overestimate or underestimate the pressure drop after repair of coarctation and it should be interpreted with caution in individual patients. Catheterisation with angiography remains the reference standard for assessment of surgical repair of the aortic arch.
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