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  • Radiology in Public Focus

    August 01, 2013

    Press releases were sent to the medical news media for the following articles appearing in recent issues of Radiology.

    Abdominal Aortic Atherosclerosis at MR Imaging Is Associated with Cardiovascular Events: The Dallas Heart Study

    MR imaging measures of aortic atherosclerosis are predictive of future adverse cardiovascular events, new research shows.

    In a study of 2,122 participants from the multiethnic, population-based Dallas Heart Study who underwent abdominal aortic MR imaging at 1.5 T, Christopher D. Maroules, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and colleagues measured aortic atherosclerosis by quantifying mean aortic wall thickness (MAWT) and aortic plaque burden. Participants were monitored for cardiovascular death, nonfatal cardiac events, and nonfatal extracardiac vascular events over a mean period of 7.8 years.

    Increasing MAWT was positively associated with men (odds ratio, 3.66; P < .0001), current smoking (odds ratio, 2.53; P < .0001), 10-year increase in age (odds ratio, 2.24; P < .0001) and hypertension (odds ratio, 1.66; P = .0001). A total of 143 participants (6.7 percent) experienced a cardiovascular event.

    “MR imaging measures of aortic atherosclerosis are predictive of future adverse cardiovascular events,” according to researchers. “Both aortic plaque burden and mean aortic wall thickness are significant predictors of nonfatal, extracardiac vascular events.”

    White Matter Hyperintensities: Use of Aortic Arch Pulse Wave Velocity to Predict Volume Independent of Other Cardiovascular Risk Factors

    Aortic arch pulse wave velocity (PWV) is an independent predictor of subsequent white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume, with a greater standardized effect and level of significance than all other cardiovascular risk factors assessed except for age, new research shows.

    In a study of 1,270 participants in the multiethnic, population-based Dallas Heart Study, Kevin S. King, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and colleagues measured aortic arch PWV with phase-contrast MR imaging. Seven years later, the volume of WMH was determined using brain MR imaging. Researchers also analyzed 15 other cardiovascular risk factors, as well as age, gender and ethnicity, as predictors of WMH.

    Results showed that aortic arch PWV helped predict WMH volume independent of the other demographic and cardiovascular risk factors. Researchers estimated that a 1 percent increase in aortic arch PWV (in meters per second) is related to a 0.3 percent increase in subsequent WHM volume (in milliliters) when all other variables are constant.

    “In an optimal predictive model, aortic arch PWV provides a distinct contribution to WMH burden along with systolic blood pressure, hypertension treatment, history of congestive heart failure, and age,” the researchers write.

    Soccer Heading Is Associated with White Matter Microstructural and Cognitive Abnormalities

    High frequency of soccer ‘heading’—in which players field the ball with their head—in otherwise healthy adult amateur players is associated with lower white matter fractional anisotropy and worse memory performance than in players who performed less heading, new research shows.

    Michael L. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., of Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, N.Y., and colleagues conducted diffusion-tensor MR imaging on 37 amateur adult soccer players (median age 31 years); 29 were men. Participants played soccer for an average of 22 years and an average of 10 months during the past year. Cognitive function was measured using a computerized battery of tests. Voxelwise linear regression (heading vs. fractional anisotropy [FA]) was applied to identify significant regional associations. Researchers tested FA at each location and cognition for a nonlinear relationship to heading by using an inverse logit model that incorporated demographic covariates and history of concussion.

    Results showed that participants headed 32-5,400 times over the previous year. High frequency of soccer heading (885–1,800 headings per year) in otherwise healthy adult amateur players is associated with lower white matter fractional anisotropy (FA) (P < .00001) and worse memory performance (P < .00001) than in players who performed less heading.

    “Repetitive subconcussive head trauma in the setting of heading during soccer may be associated with white matter microstructural and neurocognitive changes similar to those seen in patients with traumatic brain injury,” the authors write.

    Symptomatic White Matter Changes in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Resemble Pathologic Features of Early Alzheimer Dementia

    Distribution of white matter abnormalities in patients with symptomatic mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) is strikingly similar to the distribution of pathologic abnormalities in patients with early Alzheimer dementia, new research shows.

    In the study, Saeed Fakhran, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues evaluated diffusion-tensor images from 64 consecutive patients with mild TBI obtained with conventional MR imaging. Fractional anisotropy (FA) maps were generated as a measure of white matter integrity. All patients underwent a neurocognitive evaluation.

    Results showed a significant correlation between elevated total concussion symptom score and reduced FA at the gray matter–white matter junction (P < .05), most prominently in the auditory cortex (P < .05). FA values in the parahippocampal gyri were significantly decreased in patients with sleep and wake disturbances relative to those in patients without sleep and wake disturbances (0.26 and 0.37 respectively, P < .05).

    “Additional research in this area may help further elucidate a potential link between these seemingly disparate disease processes because the symptoms of mild TBI may not be from direct damage already done but rather from damage from a neurodegenerative cascade that may be prevented,” the authors write.

    Media Coverage of RSNA

    Radiology May 2013 coverIn May, 513 RSNA-related news stories were tracked in the media. These stories reached an estimated 227 million people.

    Coverage included The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, Yahoo! News, The Globe and Mail, KTVD-TV (Denver), The Vancouver Sun, Toronto Star and Medical News Today.

    Read coverage of RSNA in these media:

    New on RadiologyInfo.org

    Visit RadiologyInfo.org, RSNA and ACR’s jointly-sponsored public information website, to read the latest additions to the Diseases and Conditions section:

    August Outreach Public Information Activities

    In August, RSNA is distributing the “60-Second Checkup” radio segments to nearly 100 radio stations across the U.S. The segments focus on the use of MR imaging to show brain abnormalities in patients who suffer from migraines.


    Abdominal Aortic Atherosclerosis at MR Imaging
    (Click to enlarge) Graphs show cumulative incidence curves for incident composite cardiovascular events based on (left) MAWT quartiles and (right) aortic plaque burden (present vs. absent). AP = aortic plaque, AWT = aortic wall thickness.(Radiology 2013;269;1:InPress) ©RSNA, 2013. All rights reserved. Printed with permission.
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