Prospect of positron emission tomography for abdominal aortic aneurysm risk stratification

J Nucl Cardiol. 2021 May 11. doi: 10.1007/s12350-021-02616-8. Online ahead of print.


Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) disease is characterized by an asymptomatic, permanent, focal dilatation of the abdominal aorta progressing towards rupture, which confers significant mortality. Patient management and surgical decisions rely on aortic diameter measurements via abdominal ultrasound surveillance. However, AAA rupture can occur at small diameters or may never occur at large diameters, implying that anatomical size is not necessarily a sufficient indicator. Molecular imaging may help identify high-risk patients through AAA evaluation independent of aneurysm size, and there is the question of the potential role of positron emission tomography (PET) and emerging role of novel radiotracers for AAA. Therefore, this review summarizes PET studies conducted in the last 10 years and discusses the usefulness of PET radiotracers for AAA risk stratification. The most frequently reported radiotracer was [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose, indicating inflammatory activity and reflecting the biomechanical properties of AAA. Emerging radiotracers include [18F]-labeled sodium fluoride, a calcification marker, [64Cu]DOTA-ECL1i, an indicator of chemokine receptor type 2 expression, and [18F]fluorothymidine, a marker of cell proliferation. For novel radiotracers, preliminary trials in patients are warranted before their widespread clinical implementation. AAA rupture risk is challenging to evaluate; therefore, clinicians may benefit from PET-based risk assessment to guide patient management and surgical decisions.

Keywords: Positron emission tomography; abdominal aortic aneurysm; prognosis; radioisotopes.

Publication types

  • Review