Altered hemodynamics by 4D flow cardiovascular magnetic resonance predict exercise intolerance in repaired coarctation of the aorta: An in vitro study


Section of Cardiac Surgery, Department of Surgery, Advocate Children's Hospital


BACKGROUND: Coarctation of the aorta (CoA) is associated with decreased exercise capacity despite successful repair. Altered flow patterns have been identified due to abnormal aortic arch geometry. Our previous work demonstrated aorta size mismatch to be associated with exercise intolerance in this population. In this study, we studied aortic flow patterns during simulations of exercise in repaired CoA using 4D flow cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) using aortic replicas connected to an in vitro flow pump and correlated findings with exercise stress test results to identify biomarkers of exercise intolerance.

METHODS: Patients with CoA repair were retrospectively analyzed after CMR and exercise stress test. Each aorta was manually segmented and 3D printed. Pressure gradient measurements from ascending aorta (AAo) to descending aorta (DAo) and 4D flow CMR were performed during simulations of rest and exercise using a mock circulatory flow loop. Changes in wall shear stress (WSS) and secondary flow formation (vorticity and helicity) from rest to exercise were quantified, as well as estimated DAo Reynolds number. Parameters were correlated with percent predicted peak oxygen consumption (VO2max) and aorta size mismatch (DAAo/DDAo).

RESULTS: Fifteen patients were identified (VO2max 47 to 126% predicted). Pressure gradient did not correlate with VO2max at rest or exercise. VO2max correlated positively with the change in peak vorticity (R = 0.55, p = 0.03), peak helicity (R = 0.54, p = 0.04), peak WSS in the AAo (R = 0.68, p = 0.005) and negatively with peak WSS in the DAo (R = - 0.57, p = 0.03) from rest to exercise. DAAo/DDAo correlated strongly with change in vorticity (R = - 0.38, p = 0.01), helicity (R = - 0.66, p = 0.007), and WSS in the AAo (R = - 0.73, p = 0.002) and DAo (R = 0.58, p = 0.02). Estimated DAo Reynolds number negatively correlated with VO2max for exercise (R = - 0.59, p = 0.02), but not rest (R = - 0.28, p = 0.31). Visualization of streamline patterns demonstrated more secondary flow formation in aortic arches with better exercise capacity, larger DAo, and lower Reynolds number.

CONCLUSIONS: There are important associations between secondary flow characteristics and exercise capacity in repaired CoA that are not captured by traditional pressure gradient, likely due to increased turbulence and inefficient flow. These 4D flow CMR parameters are a target of investigation to identify optimal aortic arch geometry and improve long term clinical outcomes after CoA repair.

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