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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


The Role of Ultrasound in Dunbar Syndrome: Lessons Based on a Case Report

Challenging differential diagnosis, Diagnostic / therapeutic accidents, Management of emergency care, Rare disease, Congenital defects / diseases, Educational Purpose (only if useful for a systematic review or synthesis)

Renato Farina, Pietro Valerio Foti, Andrea Conti, Francesco Aldo Iannace, Isabella Pennisi, Serafino Santonocito, Luigi Fanzone, Giuseppe Mazzone, Stefano Palmucci, Antonio Basile

Italy Radiodiagnostic and Radiotherapy Unit, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences and Advanced Technologies “GF Ingrassia", Catania University, Catania, Italy

Am J Case Rep 2020; 21:e926778

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.926778

Available online: 2020-09-28

Published: 2020-11-08


BACKGROUND: Dunbar syndrome is a rare vascular alteration caused by the abnormal course of the median arcuate ligament of the diaphragm, which in some patients causes chronic compression of the celiac artery and can cause non-specific symptoms such as diarrhea, retro-sternal pain, vomiting, swelling, and nausea, or a typical symptomatic triad with weight loss, post-prandial abdominal pain, and epigastric murmur. Color Doppler ultrasound and duplex Doppler ultrasound provide a complete diagnostic framework of this disease.
CASE REPORT: We describe a case of 55-year-old man with post-prandial epigastric pain, significant weight loss, and several episodes of retro-sternal pain. He underwent multidetector computed tomography of the abdomen and color duplex Doppler ultrasound examination of the celiac artery that highlighted stenosis of the celiac artery, more severe in expiratory apnea. The computed tomography showed the typical aspect of the celiac artery, with the “hook sign”. A duplex Doppler ultrasound examination showed a significant increase in peak speed (226 cm/s) due to severe stenosis of the celiac artery by the median arched ligament of the diaphragm.
CONCLUSIONS: This case is unique due to the severity of the celiac artery stenosis and the unusual clinical presentation of the patient who had frequent episodes of retro-sternal pain. The significant increase in peak velocity in the celiac artery in expiratory apnea, if associated with the typical symptomatology in the absence of other alterations of the splanchnic vessels, can be considered, in our opinion, sufficient for the diagnosis of Dunbar syndrome.

Keywords: Cardiovascular Abnormalities, Celiac Artery, multidetector computed tomography, Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color, Ultrasonography, Doppler, Duplex