The incidence of pulmonary neoplasms discovered by serial computed tomography scanning after endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair

J Vasc Surg. 2011 Mar;53(3):738-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2010.09.066. Epub 2010 Dec 3.


Objectives: Serial computed tomography (CT) scanning is routinely used to follow up endovascular exclusion of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs). Nonvascular diseases can be identified, and these exams include images of the lung bases, which can provide information that leads to the diagnosis of pulmonary neoplasms. This study was conducted to determine the rate and type of pulmonary-based oncologic diseases identified by serial CT scanning of patients with endovascular repair of AAAs.

Methods: A retrospective review of 138 consecutive patients receiving endovascular AAA exclusion during an 8-year period was performed. Length of follow-up and number of CT scans performed was recorded. CT characteristics of the lesion (size, character, and suspicion of malignancy), type of biopsy procedure performed, and final pathologic diagnosis were collected. Oncologic treatments and survival length were also evaluated.

Results: Pulmonary lesions were found in 25 patients (18%), of whom 5 (4%) died during follow-up, and 13 (9%) had stable, subcentimeter lesions and continue to have surveillance from vascular specialists only. Seven patients (5%) with pulmonary lesions were referred for evaluation by thoracic surgeons. Six patients (4%) underwent biopsy of the lesion and were diagnosed with cancer. One patient refused a biopsy and is being monitored with serial CT scans. Four lung cancers (1 small cell and 3 non-small cell), one primary pulmonary carcinoid tumor, and one B-cell lymphoma were discovered. No changes were noted in the lesions in the patient receiving CT surveillance. More than half of the cancers were diagnosed in stage I, with a mean lesion diameter of 11 mm at biopsy. Of 25 patients with pulmonary nodules, 24 were men. The patients diagnosed with cancer are all still alive, with a mean survival length of 2.5 years (range, 0.5-6 years) after oncologic treatment.

Conclusions: Serial CT scans may reveal a high rate of pulmonary malignancies in a population with AAAs. Attention to the incidental finding of pulmonary nodules on CT scans and arrangement of appropriate follow-up by the vascular surgeon is important for patients undergoing surveillance after endovascular AAA repair. These results indicate that aggressive management of these lesions (early thoracic surgery consultation and biopsy) is appropriate in this high-risk population and may offer early diagnosis and improved long-term survival.

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / diagnostic imaging
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / surgery*
  • Aortography / methods*
  • Biopsy
  • Endovascular Procedures*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / diagnostic imaging*
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / epidemiology
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / mortality
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / therapy
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Virginia