HTAD patient pathway: Strategy for diagnostic work-up of patients and families with (suspected) heritable thoracic aortic diseases (HTAD). A statement from the HTAD working group of VASCERN

Maryanne Caruana, Marieke J. Baars, Evy Bashiardes, Kalman Benke, Erik Björck, Andrei Codreanu, Elena de Moya Rubio, Julia Dumfarth, Arturo Evangelista, Maarten Groenink, Klaus Kallenbach, Marlies Kempers, Anna Keravnou, Bart Loeys, Laura Muiño-Mosquera, Edit Nagy, Olivier Milleron, Stefano Nistri, Guglielmina Pepe, Jolien Roos-HesselinkZoltan Szabolcs, Gisela Teixidó-Tura, Janneke Timmermans, Ingrid Van de Laar, Roland van Kimmenade, Aline Verstraeten, Yskert Von Kodolitsch, Julie De Backer, Guillaume Jondeau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Heritable thoracic aortic diseases (HTAD) are rare pathologies associated with thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissection, which can be syndromic or non-syndromic. They may result from genetic defects. Associated genes identified to date are classified into those encoding components of the (a) extracellular matrix (b) TGFβ pathway and (c) smooth muscle contractile mechanism. Timely diagnosis allows for prompt aortic surveillance and prophylactic surgery, hence improving life expectancy and reducing maternal complications as well as providing reassurance to family members when a diagnosis is ruled out. This document is an expert opinion reflecting strategies put forward by medical experts and patient representatives involved in the HTAD Rare Disease Working Group of VASCERN. It aims to provide a patient pathway that improves patient care by diminishing time to diagnosis, facilitating the establishment of a correct diagnosis using molecular genetics when possible, excluding the diagnosis in unaffected persons through appropriate family screening and avoiding overuse of resources. It is being recommended that patients are referred to an expert centre for further evaluation if they meet at least one of the following criteria: (1) thoracic aortic dissection (<70 years if hypertensive; all ages if non-hypertensive), (2) thoracic aortic aneurysm (all adults with Z score >3.5 or 2.5–3.5 if non-hypertensive or hypertensive and <60 years; all children with Z score >3), (3) family history of HTAD with/without a pathogenic variant in a gene linked to HTAD, (4) ectopia lentis without other obvious explanation and (5) a systemic score of >5 in adults and >3 in children. Aortic imaging primarily relies on transthoracic echocardiography with magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography as needed. Genetic testing should be considered in those with a high suspicion of underlying genetic aortopathy. Though panels vary among centers, for patients with thoracic aortic aneurysm or dissection or systemic features these should include genes with a definitive or strong association to HTAD. Genetic cascade screening and serial aortic imaging should be considered for family screening and follow-up. In conclusion, the implementation of these strategies should help standardise the diagnostic work-up and follow-up of patients with suspected HTAD and the screening of their relatives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104673
JournalEuropean Journal of Medical Genetics
Issue number1
Early online date29 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: CHAFEA Specific Grant Agreement for Year 1 HP-ERN-SGA-2016 10 Project n° 769036 (from March 2017 to February 2018) 11 - CHAFEA Specific Grant Agreement for Year 2 HP-ERN-SGA-2017 12 Project n° 811609 (from March 2018 to February 2019) 13 - CHAFEA Specific Grant Agreement for Year 3 to 5 HP-ERN-SGA-2018 14 Project n° 847081 (from March 2019 to February 2022).

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