Follow-up on Small Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms Using Three Dimensional Ultrasound: Volume Versus Diameter.
Objectives: Rupture risk in abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) is assessed using AAA diameter; yet 10% of ruptures occur in a small aneurysm. This underlines the inadequacy of diameter as a standalone parameter. In this prospective follow-up study, ultrasound determined aneurysm diameter was compared with aneurysm volume determined by three dimensional ultrasound (3D-US) in a group of 179 AAAs.
Design: This was a prospective cohort study with repeated diameter and volume measurements by 3D-US.
Material and methods: In total, 179 patients with small infrarenal AAAs (diameter 30-55 mm) were enrolled consecutively. At enrolment and at 12 month follow-up, maximum diameter, using dual plane technique, and three dimensional volume were measured. Based on a previous accuracy study, significant change in diameter and volume were defined as an increase exceeding the known range of variability (ROV) of each US technique; ±3.7 mm and ±8.8 mL, respectively. Post-hoc Kaplan-Meier analysis was performed to estimate time to conversion to treatment after the conclusion of the follow-up period between two groups.
Results: In total, 125 patients (70%) had an unchanged diameter during follow-up. In this group, 50 patients (40%) had an increasing aortic volume. Forty-five (83%) of the 54 patients with an increasing aortic diameter showed a corresponding volume increase. During a median follow-up of 367 days (364-380 days), a mean increase in diameter of 2.7 mm (±2.6 mm) and a mean increase in volume of 11.6 mL (±9.9 mL) were recorded. In post-hoc analysis, it was found that more AAAs with a stable diameter and a growing volume than AAAs with a stable diameter and volume were undergoing aortic repair during follow-up, based on the maximum diameter.
Conclusion: In this cohort of small AAAs, 40% of patients with a stable diameter had an increasing volume at 12 month follow-up. From this perspective, 3D-US could have a future supplemental role in AAA surveillance programmes.