PET/CT imaging with FDG can identify when a tear in the wall of the aorta causes blood to flow between the wall's layers and forces the layers apart, according to research.
Many conventional forms of imaging are unable to distinguish between acute and chronic dissection, according to the study, published in the May Journal of Nuclear Medicine. Differentiating acute and chronic dissection can alter the course of treatment, meaning rushing the patient to surgery or using beta blockers to lower blood pressure.
Acute dissection of the aortic wall leads to elevated metabolic activity in newly lacerated segments of the aortic wall, while stable chronic aortic dissection showed no increased metabolic activity (2010;51:686-691).
In the same issue of JNM, Japanese researchers found that greater metabolic activity in acute aortic dissection was significantly associated with increased risk for rupture and progression (2010;51:674-681).