Predictive imaging for thoracic aortic dissection and rupture: moving beyond diameters.

Authors: Bouke P. Adriaans, Joachim E. Wildberger, Jos J. M. Westenberg, Hildo J. Lamb, Simon Schalla

Acute aortic syndromes comprise a group of potentially fatal conditions that result from weakening of the aortic vessel wall. Pre-emptive surgical intervention is currently reserved for patients with severe aortic dilatation, although abundant evidence describes the occurrence of dissection and rupture in aortas with diameters below surgical thresholds. Modern imaging techniques (such as hybrid PET-CT and 4D flow MRI) afford the non-invasive assessment of anatomic, hemodynamic, and molecular features of the aorta, and may provide for a more accurate selection of patients who will benefit from preventative surgical intervention. In the current review, we summarize evidence and considerations regarding predictive aortic imaging and highlight evolving imaging modalities that have shown promise to improve risk assessment for the occurrence of dissection and rupture.

Key Points
• Guidelines for the preventative management of aortic disease depend on maximal vessel diameters, while these have shown to be poor predictors for the occurrence of catastrophic acute aortic events.

• Evolving imaging modalities (such as 4D flow MRI and hybrid PET-CT) afford a more comprehensive insight into anatomic, hemodynamic, and molecular features of the aorta and have shown promise to detect vessel wall instability at an early stage.

Aorta Aortic dissection Aortic aneurysm Type A dissection Aortic rupture
Abdominal aortic aneurysm

Acute aortic syndrome

Bicuspid aortic valve

Intramural hematoma

Phase contrast

Standard deviation

Thoracic aortic aneurysm

Vascular smooth muscle cell

Wall shear stress