Tortuosity of the descending thoracic aorta: Normal values by age

Viony M. Belvroy*, Hector W.L. De Beaufort, Joost A. Van Herwaarden, Jean Bismuth, Frans L. Moll, Santi Trimarchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background Aging changes the aorta in length, tortuosity and diameter. This is relevant in thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) and in the long term follow up. Methods and results Two groups of hundred patients < 65 years and hundred patients 65 years, with no vascular diseases were made. Thin cut CT scans were analyzed with 3Mensio Vascular software and the following measurements were collected; tortuosity index, curvature ratio, maximum tortuosity in degrees and the level of vertebrae of the maximum tortuosity. The descending thoracic aorta (DTA) was analyzed and was divided into four zones of equal length. Subjects were divided into three groups based on their maximum tortuosity value: low (< 30), moderate (30 – 60) and high (> 60). A linear regression model was built to test the effect of age and gender on tortuosity. Tortuosity was more pronounced in the 65 compared to the < 65 group (tortuosity index: 1.05 vs. 1.14, respectively; p < 0.001), curvature ratio (1.00 vs. 1.01; p < 0.001), maximum tortuosity (22.24 vs. 27.26; p < 0.001), and group of angulation (low vs. low; p < 0.001). Additionally, the location of maximum tortuosity was further distal for the 65 group (level of vertebrae; 5.00 vs. 5.00; p < 0.001), and zone of maximum tortuosity (4A vs. 4A; p < 0.001). There was no significant difference between male and female subjects. Conclusion Normal DTA tortuosity increases with age. This is important to understand natural aging and for TEVAR planning and follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0215549
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


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