Determining the optimal interval for imaging surveillance of ascending aortic aneurysms

B. P. Adriaans*, M. J. F. G. Ramaekers, S. Heuts, H. J. G. M. Crijns, S. C. A. M. Bekkers, J. J. M. Westenberg, H. J. Lamb, J. E. Wildberger, S. Schalla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Cardiovascular guidelines recommend (bi-)annual computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for surveillance of the diameter of thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAAs). However, no previous study has demonstrated the necessity for this approach. The current study aims to provide patient-specific intervals for imaging follow-up of non-syndromic TAAs. Methods A total of 332 patients with non-syndromic ascending aortic aneurysms were followed over a median period of 6.7 years. Diameters were assessed using all available imaging techniques (echocardiography, CT and MRI). Growth rates were calculated from the differences between the first and last examinations. The diagnostic accuracy of follow-up protocols was calculated as the percentage of subjects requiring pre-emptive surgery in whom timely identification would have occurred. Results The mean growth rate in our population was 0.2 +/- 0.4 mm/year. The highest recorded growth rate was 2.0 mm/year, while 40.6% of patients showed no diameter expansion during follow-up. Females exhibited significantly higher growth rates than men (0.3 +/- 0.5 vs 0.2 +/- 0.4 mm/year, p = 0.007). Conversely, a bicuspid aortic valve was not associated with more rapid aortic growth. The optimal imaging protocol comprises triennial imaging of aneurysms 40-49 mm in diameter and yearly imaging of those measuring 50-54 mm. This strategy is as accurate as annual follow-up, but reduces the number of imaging examinations by 29.9%. Conclusions In our population of patients with non-syndromic TAAs, we found aneurysm growth rates to be lower than those previously reported. Yearly imaging does not lead to changes in the management of small aneurysms. Thus, lower imaging frequencies might be a good alternative approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-631
Number of pages9
JournalNetherlands Heart Journal
Issue number12
Early online date13 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Aorta
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Follow-up
  • Dissection

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