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Hell J Nucl Med. 2009 May-Aug;12(2):123-8.

A pilot study of changes in (18)F-FDG uptake, calcification and global metabolic activity of the aorta with aging.

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  • 1Division of Nuclear Medicine, Department of Radiology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Our aim was to quantify changes in the inflammatory and calcific components of atherosclerosis in the aortic wall using fluoro-18-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography (18)F-FDGPET and contrast enhanced computerized tomography (CECT) with increasing age. Twelve subjects, 8 men and 4 women aged from 21-80 years who had both (18)F-FDG-PET and CECT of the chest and abdomen were included in this study. Subjects were grouped into three according to age. (18)F-FDG uptake in four segments of the aorta was measured. Using CECT images, aortic segmental wall volumes were measured. Wall calcification volume in each aortic segment was also measured via adaptation of a coronary artery calcium-scoring program to the aorta. Calcification volumes were then subtracted from aortic wall volumes. Each net segmental aortic wall volume was then multiplied by the accompanying mean SUV of the segment to calculate global metabolic activity (GMA) for each aortic segment. Our results showed that in each aortic wall segment, mean SUV, wall volumes, wall calcification volumes, and GMA statistically significantly increased with age. In conclusion, (18)F-FDG uptake, wall volume, wall calcification volume, and GMA in the aorta increase with aging. The (18)F-FDG uptake represents the early inflammatory component of the atherosclerotic process, whereas calcification generally represents a later and irreversible stage of the disease. Measurement and combination of PET and CECT parameters to calculate GMA may allow for optimal morphologic and functional noninvasive quantitative assessment of global aortic atherosclerotic disease.

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