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Endovascular repair of bleeding aortoenteric fistulas: a 5-year experience.

PURPOSE: Aortoenteric fistula (AEF) is an uncommon but catastrophic complication that can occur either primarily or after aortic reconstruction. Untreated, it is uniformly fatal. Conventional surgical management is associated with a perioperative mortality rate of 25% to 90% and frequent major complications. We reviewed our experience with the endovascular treatment of both primary and secondary AEFs in an effort to determine whether endovascular repair is a less morbid alternative to traditional surgical treatment in select patients.

METHODS: In a 5-year period, seven high-risk patients who had bleeding and an AEF documented by means of radiology or endoscopy (2 primary, 5 secondary) were treated with coil embolization (1) or placement of an endovascular aortic stent graft (3 aortouniiliac, 2 tube, 1 bifurcated). One patient underwent computed tomography (CT)-guided percutaneous catheter drainage of an infected perigraft collection. The average follow-up period was 27 months (range, 11-66 months), and follow-up consisted of physical examination, complete blood count, and contrast-enhanced helical CT scanning at 3, 6, and 12 months and yearly thereafter. All patients were treated with intravenous antibiotics perioperatively and were prescribed life-long oral antibiotics on discharge.

RESULTS: There was one perioperative death (14%) caused by fungal sepsis. Persistent sepsis after stent-graft placement necessitated laparotomy and bowel resection in one patient. One patient had three bouts of recurrent sepsis that were successfully treated with a change of antibiotic. There were three late deaths (43%) unrelated to the procedure or AEF. Three patients (43%) were alive and well an average of 36 months (range, 23-67 months) after the procedure, with no clinical or radiologic evidence of recurrent bleeding or infection.

CONCLUSION: Endovascular management of AEFs is technically feasible and may be the preferred treatment in select patients with bleeding and no signs of sepsis. In the setting of gross infection, it may also be considered in high-risk patients as a bridge to more definitive treatment after hemodynamic stabilization and optimization.

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