BACKGROUND: Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) wall inflammation and mechanical structural stress may influence AAA expansion and lead to rupture. We hypothesized a positive correlation between structural stress and fluorine-18-labeled 2-deoxy-2-fluoro-d-glucose ((18)F-FDG) positron emission tomography-defined inflammation. We also explored the influence of computed tomography-derived aneurysm morphology and composition, including intraluminal thrombus, on both variables.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Twenty-one patients (19 males) with AAAs below surgical threshold (AAA size was 4.10±0.54 cm) underwent (18)F-FDG positron emission tomography and contrast-enhanced computed tomography imaging. Structural stresses were calculated using finite element analysis. The relationship between maximum aneurysm (18)F-FDG standardized uptake value within aortic wall and wall structural stress, patient clinical characteristics, aneurysm morphology, and compositions was explored using a hierarchical linear mixed-effects model. On univariate analysis, local aneurysm diameter, thrombus burden, extent of calcification, and structural stress were all associated with (18)F-FDG uptake (P<0.05). AAA structural stress correlated with (18)F-FDG maximum standardized uptake value (slope estimate, 0.552; P<0.0001). Multivariate linear mixed-effects analysis revealed an important interaction between structural stress and intraluminal thrombus in relation to maximum standardized uptake value (fixed effect coefficient, 1.68 [SE, 0.10]; P<0.0001). Compared with other factors, structural stress was the best predictor of inflammation (receiver-operating characteristic curve area under the curve =0.59), with higher accuracy seen in regions with high thrombus burden (area under the curve =0.80). Regions with both high thrombus burden and high structural stress had higher (18)F-FDG maximum standardized uptake value compared with regions with high thrombus burdens but low stress (median [interquartile range], 1.93 [1.60-2.14] versus 1.14 [0.90-1.53]; P<0.0001).
CONCLUSIONS: Increased aortic wall inflammation, demonstrated by (18)F-FDG positron emission tomography, was observed in AAA regions with thick intraluminal thrombus subjected to high mechanical stress, suggesting a potential mechanistic link underlying aneurysm inflammation.