A 5yo boy is brought to you clinic by his parents for reporting that his legs hurt “when he plays too much”. His parents corroborate this saying that when he is climbing on the playground for too long he complains that his legs hurt and he needs to stop and rest for awhile. Vaccinations are UTD and he has had a relatively healthy childhood without significant illnesses. He has no significant past medical history and mother reports that she was 38 weeks when he was born via NSVD without any complications. Cardiac auscultation reveals a normal S1 and S2 without murmurs, gallops, or rubs.
- What would you expect to find on physical examination?
- What other physical assessment can you perform at the bedside to help with the diagnosis?
- What findings on diagnostics would also help with the diagnosis?
The above scenario suggests coarctation of the aorta. The classic physical exam findings are hypertension in the upper extremities, delayed or dminished femoral pulses, and low or unobtainable blood pressures in the lower extremities. Thus, in patients you suspect coarctation of the aorta your should perform a supine bilateral brachial artery blood pressures and prone, supine popliteal blood pressure. In older children and adults, you may see rib notching on chest radiographs from development of large collateral arteries, as well as an indentation of the aortic wall at the site of the coarctation producing the class “3” sign.