Rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is commonly a fatal event. Multidetector computed tomographic (CT) signs of frank aortic rupture are usually readily apparent and widely understood. However, diagnosing an impending aortic rupture on the basis of imaging findings can prove more difficult. CT is the primary modality used for serial imaging in patients with aortic aneurysm and may show findings indicative of aortic instability. Therefore, it is critical that radiologists be familiar with the CT findings of aortic instability to avert the potential complications of hemorrhage, end organ or limb ischemia, and death. Various preoperative CT indicators have been previously described in both research investigations and review articles. A large baseline aneurysm size and a rapid increase in size over time are associated with a higher risk for rupture. The importance of obtaining accurate measurements with multiplanar reconstructions and the role of new semiautomated tools for obtaining accurate, reproducible measurements are discussed. Additional CT findings that reflect aortic aneurysm instability include luminal expansion with lysis of thrombus, intramural hemorrhage (ie, the crescent sign), periaortic hemorrhage, a penetrating atherosclerotic ulcer, and contained rupture (ie, the draped aorta sign). After open or endovascular aneurysm repair, CT is routinely used to monitor for graft complications. In this setting, radiologists should understand that the presence of an endoluminal stent or surgical graft does not preclude aortic rupture.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging