A positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) evaluation of asymptomatic abdominal aortic aneurysms: another point of view.
ABSTRACT To assess the prevalence of increased (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake in aneurysmal walls, adopting a case-control approach in a population of asymptomatic patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
This study included 40 males (mean age: 74 years, range: 59-93 years), consecutive, white Caucasian patients, with asymptomatic infrarenal AAA. The mean diameter of AAA was 4.9 cm (range: 4.8-5.4 cm), detected by computed tomography (CT) scan. Control Subjects: 44 age-matched controls subjects (mean age: 71 years, range: 59-85 years, 24 males, 20 females) who were selected according to a case-control criterion among a population of patients without any clinical evidence of atherosclerotic disease. Patients and controls underwent simultaneous FDG-positron emission tomography (PET) and CT imaging from the skull base to the femoral neck by using an integrated PET/CT scanner. PET/CT studies were analysed both visually and quantitatively. For quantitative analysis, circular CT-based regions of interest (ROIs) were drawn on the AAA, on all the aortic segments, and on the large vessel included in the study (carotid, subclavian, and iliac arteries). FDG uptake was quantified by calculating the mean and maximum standardized uptake values (SUVs) within each ROI and normalizing for the blood-pool SUV to obtain the final target-to-background ratio. Arterial calcium load was graded according to a semiquantitative five-point scale based on calcification of the arterial ring.
Metabolic activity in the aneurysmal aortic segment was even lower with respect to both the adjacent--nonaneurysmal--samples of patient group and the corresponding arterial segments of control subjects (P < 0.001 and P < 0.01, respectively). In visual analysis, no patients showed an increased focal uptake of degree adequate to identify the aneurysmal arterial wall. AAA patients showed significantly higher values of total calcium load (ACL) than controls in ascending aorta and subclavian and iliac arteries (P < 0.01), and only in AAA patient group, a significant correlation was present between values of ACL in both iliac arteries and abdominal aorta on one side and wall metabolic activity in the same arteries on the other (P < 0.05).
In conclusion, our results suggest that FDG hot spot, as well an increased diffuse uptake of FDG, in PET/CT studies is an extremely rare finding in patients with AAA of diameter close to surgical indications.