Functional chiral asymmetry in descending thoracic aorta.
To determine whether rotational blood flow or chiral asymmetry exists in the human descending thoracic aorta, we established the ability of color Doppler ultrasound to detect rotational flow in a tornado tube model of a vortex descending fluid column. In a model of the human aortic arch with a pulse duplicator, color Doppler was then used to demonstrate that rotational flow occurs first in the transverse arch and then in the proximal descending thoracic aorta. With the use of color Doppler esophageal echocardiography, 53 patients (age range, 25-78 years; mean age, 56.4 years) were prospectively examined for rotational flow in the descending thoracic aorta. At 10 cm superior to retro-left ventricular position, 22 of 38 patients (58%) revealed rotational flow with obvious diastolic counterclockwise rotation but less obvious systolic clockwise rotation. At 5 cm superior to retro-left ventricular position, 29 of 46 patients (63%) revealed rotational flow with a tendency toward systolic clockwise and diastolic counterclockwise rotation. At the retro-left ventricular position, 47 of 53 patients (89%) revealed rotational flow, usually of a clockwise direction, occurring in systole. Our data suggest that aortic flow is not purely pulsatile and axial but has a rotational component. Rotational flow begins in the aortic arch and is carried through to the descending thoracic aorta, where flow is chirally asymmetric with systolic clockwise and diastolic counterclockwise components. These data demonstrate an aortic rotational flow component that may have physiological implications for organ perfusion.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association