Low Shear Stress at Baseline Predicts Expansion and Aneurysm-Related Events in Patients With Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Nikhilesh Bappoo, Maaz B. J. Syed, Georgia Khinsoe, Lachlan J. Kelsey, Rachael O. Forsythe, Janet T. Powell, Peter R. Hoskins, Olivia M. B. McBride, Paul E. Norman, Shirley Jansen, David E. Newby, Barry J. Doyle (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Low shear stress has been implicated in abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) expansion and clinical events. We tested the hypothesis that low shear stress in AAA at baseline is a marker of expansion rate and future aneurysm-related events.

Methods: Patients were imaged with computed tomography angiography at baseline and followed up every 6 months >24 months with ultrasound measurements of maximum diameter. From baseline computed tomography angiography, we reconstructed 3-dimensional models for automated computational fluid dynamics simulations and computed luminal shear stress. The primary composite end point was aneurysm repair and/or rupture, and the secondary end point was aneurysm expansion rate.

Results: We included 295 patients with median AAA diameter of 49 mm (interquartile range, 43-54 mm) and median follow-up of 914 (interquartile range, 670-1112) days. There were 114 (39%) aneurysm-related events, with 13 AAA ruptures and 98 repairs (one rupture was repaired). Patients with low shear stress (<0.4 Pa) experienced a higher number of aneurysm-related events (44%) compared with medium (0.4-0.6 Pa; 27%) and high (>0.6 Pa; 29%) shear stress groups (P=0.010). This association was independent of known risk factors (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.72 [95% CI, 1.08-2.73]; P=0.023). Low shear stress was also independently associated with AAA expansion rate (β=+0.28 mm/y [95% CI, 0.02-0.53]; P=0.037).

Conclusions: We show for the first time that low shear stress (<0.4 Pa) at baseline is associated with both AAA expansion and future aneurysm-related events. Aneurysms within the lowest tertile of shear stress, versus those with higher shear stress, were more likely to rupture or reach thresholds for elective repair. Larger prospective validation trials are needed to confirm these findings and translate them into clinical management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1112-1121
Number of pages10
JournalCirculation - Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number12
Early online date8 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • angiography
  • risk factor
  • hemodynamics
  • aortic aneurysm, abdominal
  • tomography


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