Objective: GCA carries an increased risk of developing thoracic aortic aneurysms. Previous work with fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET has shown that the aorta is frequently involved in this type of vasculitis. We wanted to investigate whether there is a correlation between the extent of vascular FDG uptake during the acute phase of GCA and the aortic diameter at late follow-up.
Methods: All patients with biopsy-proven GCA who ever underwent an FDG-PET scan in our centre were asked to undergo a CT scan of the aorta. The diameter of the aorta was measured at six different levels (ascending aorta, aortic arch, descending aorta, abdominal suprarenal, juxtarenal and infrarenal aorta) and the volumes of the thoracic and of the abdominal aorta were calculated.
Results: Forty-six patients agreed to participate (32 females, 14 males). A mean of 46.7 +/- 29.9 months elapsed between diagnosis and CT scan. All aortic dimensions were significantly smaller in women than in men, except for the diameter of the ascending aorta. Patients who had an increased FDG uptake in the aorta at diagnosis of GCA, had a significantly larger diameter of the ascending aorta (P = 0.025) and descending aorta (P = 0.044) and a significantly larger volume of the thoracic aorta (P = 0.029). In multivariate analysis, FDG uptake at the thoracic aorta was associated with late volume of the thoracic aorta (P = 0.039).
Conclusion: GCA-patients with increased FDG uptake in the aorta may be more prone to develop thoracic aortic dilatation than GCA patients without this sign of aortic involvement.