PET/CT may identify 'vulnerable' aortic plaque

Los Angeles, California Combined PET and CT scans may be able to detect early pathological changes in the aortic wall and blood vessels that may cause severe cardiovascular events in the future, according to results of a study released at the Society of Nuclear Medicine's (SNM) 49th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. Such scans could be useful in disease prevention and in monitoring patients for early disease.

Mitsuaki Tatsumi, MD, PhD, and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine looked at combined PET/CT scans from 85 patients who had been imaged with fluorodeoxyglucose, FDG, a radiopharmaceutical for diagnosis and staging of tumors. Fifty patients (58.8%) showed at least one positive focus of FDG uptake in the thoracic aortic wall, and 45 patients showed calcifications. In general, the site of FDG uptake in the patients was distinct from the site of calcifications.

"Our analysis hypothesizes that a certain percentage of the FDG uptake sites potentially corresponds to high risk or vulnerable atherosclerotic lesions that could lead to future cardiovascular events," said Dr. Tatsumi. "The aortic wall FDG uptake finding may be useful for detection of patients at increased risk for future cardiovascular events."

"We believe that the aortic wall FDG uptake may be a sign of vulnerable' plaque, and it clearly did not correspond to calcification in general," said co-author Richard L. Wahl, MD, Director of Nuclear Medicine, Vice Chair of Technology and New Business Development, Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology at Hopkins. "Since the aortic wall FDG uptake was shown to be a very common finding, we do not know if this early finding is a significant risk factor, but the fact that the frequency of FDG uptake increased with age and the uptake sites were distinct from the calcification sites is of concern for early atherosclerosis."

Atherosclerosis, along with cancer, is the leading cause of world deaths. Ath

Contact: Karen Lubieniecki
Society of Nuclear Medicine

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