The Hyperattenuating Crescent Sign Is Not Necessarily a Sign of Impending Aortic Aneurysm Rupture.

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BACKGROUND: The "crescent sign" is a hyperattenuating crescent-shaped region on CT within the mural thrombus or wall of an aortic aneurysm. Although it has previously been associated with aneurysm instability or impending rupture, the literature is largely based on retrospective analyses of urgently repaired aneurysms. We strove to more rigorously assess the association between an isolated "crescent sign" and risk of impending aortic rupture.

METHODS: Patients were identified by querying a single health system PACS database for radiology reports noting a crescent sign. Adult patients with a CT demonstrating a descending thoracic, thoracoabdominal, or abdominal aortic aneurysm and "crescent sign" between 2004 and 2019 were included, with exclusion of those showing definitive signs of aortic rupture on imaging.

RESULTS: A total of 82 patients were identified. Aneurysm size was 7.1 ± 2.0 cm. Thirty patients had emergent or urgent repairs during their index admission (37%), 19 had elective repairs at a later date (23%), and 33 patients had no intervention due to either patient choice or prohibitive medical comorbidities (40%). Patients without intervention had a median follow up of 275 days before death or loss to follow up. In patients undergoing elective intervention, 6,968 patient-days elapsed between presentation and repair, with zero episodes of acute rupture (median 105 days). Patients undergoing elective repair had smaller aneurysms compared to those who underwent emergent/urgent repair (6.2 ± 1.3 vs. 7.7 ± 2.1 cm, P = 0.008). No surgical candidate with an aneurysm smaller than 8 cm ruptured. There were 31 patients with previous axial imaging within 2 years prior to presentation with a "crescent sign," with mean aneurysm growth rate of 0.85 ± 0.62 cm per 6 months [median 0.65, range 0-2.6]. Those with aneurysms sized below 5.5 cm displayed decreased aneurysm growth compared to patients with aneurysm's sized 5.5-6.5 cm or patients with aneurysms greater than 6.5 cm (0.12 vs. 0.64 vs. 1.16 cm per 6 months, P= 0.002).

CONCLUSIONS: The finding of an isolated radiographic "crescent sign" without other signs of definitive aortic rupture (i.e., hemothorax, aortic wall disruption, retroperitoneal bleeding) is not necessarily an indicator of impending aortic rupture, but may be found in the setting of rapid aneurysm growth. Many factors, including other associated radiographic findings, aneurysm size and growth rate, and patient symptomatology, should guide aneurysm management in these patients. We found that patients with minimal symptoms, aneurysm sizes below 6.5 cm, and no further imaging findings of aneurysm instability, such as periaortic fat stranding, can be successfully managed with elective intervention after optimization of comorbid factors with no evidence of adverse outcomes.



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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Medicine, Cardiology Division

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