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Can We Predict Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Progression and Rupture by Non-Invasive Imaging?—A Systematic Review

Author(s): Abeera Abbas | Rizwan Attia | Alberto Smith | Matthew Waltham

Journal: International Journal of Clinical Medicine
ISSN 2158-284X

Volume: 02;
Issue: 04;
Start page: 484;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) | Progression and Rupture | Non-invasive Imaging

Introduction: The most commonly used predictor of aneurysm behavior in clinical decision-making is size. There are however small aneurysms that rupture and certain large aneurysms remain asymptomatic. There is growing evidence to suggest that other variables may provide better information on metabolic and physiological properties of aortic wall and therefore better predict aneurysm behavior. Methods: The literature was systematically reviewed from 1975-May 2011 to examine the evidence to support the use of non-invasive imaging modalities that might predict aneurysm behavior. Results: Ultrasound can be used to measure multiple dynamic aortic properties (i.e. distensibility and compliance) in addition to diameter. These parameters better predict aneurysm behavior. Computer tomography can utilize assessment of aortic calcification, presence of intra-luminal thrombus and distensibility. Finite element analysis model has been validated in-vivo to calculate peak wall stress, assess effects of intra-luminal thrombus and calcification. It however relies on assumptions related to aneurysm properties and therefore remains relatively inaccurate in the clinical setting. Small numbers of observational human studies have evaluated the role of 18F-FDG PET/CT in aneurysms. Larger studies are needed, as 18F-FDG uptake is patchy and heterogeneous even in small number of patients. It varies in the same patient with time, as aneurysms grow in intermittently. We discuss functional magnetic resonance imaging with novel tracers such as 99 mTc-annexin-V and nanoparticles. Conclusion: Multimodality imaging with complementary methods such as CT, functional MRI (fMRI), ultrasound and physiological measurements improve the definition of aneurysm pathobiology. Larger-scale clinical validation is beginning to promise a new paradigm in cardiovascular diagnostics.
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