Multidimensional growth measurements of abdominal aortic aneurysms

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Monitoring the expansion of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) is critical to avoid aneurysm rupture in surveillance programs, for instance. However, measuring the change of the maximum diameter over time can only provide limited information about AAA expansion. Specifically, regions of fast diameter growth may be missed, axial growth cannot be quantified, and shape changes of potential interest for decisions related to endovascular aneurysm repair cannot be captured.


This study used multiple centerline-based diameter measurements between the renal arteries and the aortic bifurcation to quantify AAA growth in 51 patients from computed tomography angiography (CTA) data. Criteria for inclusion were at least 1 year of patient follow-up and the availability of at least two sufficiently high-resolution CTA scans that allowed an accurate three-dimensional reconstruction. Consequently, 124 CTA scans were systematically analyzed by using A4clinics diagnostic software (VASCOPS GmbH, Graz, Austria), and aneurysm growth was monitored at 100 cross-sections perpendicular to the centerline.


Monitoring diameter development over the entire aneurysm revealed the sites of the fastest diameter growth, quantified the axial growth, and showed the evolution of the neck morphology over time. Monitoring the development of an aneurysm's maximum diameter or its volume over time can assess the mean diameter growth (r = 0.69, r = 0.77) but not the maximum diameter growth (r = 0.43, r = 0.34). The diameter growth measured at the site of maximum expansion was ˜16%/y, almost four times larger than the mean diameter expansion of 4.4%/y. The sites at which the maximum diameter growth was recorded did not coincide with the position of the maximum baseline diameter (ρ = 0 .12; P = .31). The overall aneurysm sac length increased from 84 to 89 mm during the follow-up (P < .001), which relates to the median longitudinal growth of 3.5%/y. The neck length shortened, on average, by 6.2% per year and was accompanied by a slight increase in neck angulation.


Neither maximum diameter nor volume measurements over time are able to measure the fastest diameter growth of the aneurysm sac. Consequently, expansion-related wall weakening might be inappropriately reflected by this type of surveillance data. In contrast, localized spots of fast diameter growth can be detected through multiple centerline-based diameter measurements over the entire aneurysm sac. This information might further reinforce the quality of aneurysm surveillance programs.

Clinical Relevance:

Although the size of the aneurysm still remains the most accepted predictor of rupture risk, small abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) may also rupture. Thus, the new tools presented in this study use three-dimensional aneurysm models, based on computed tomography angiography and multiple centerline-based diameter measurements over the entire aneurysm sac, could help clinicians when making decisions to treat AAAs and when choosing alternative treatments for AAAs, regardless of the diameter size.

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