Femoral incision morbidity following endovascular aortic aneurysm repair

A L Jackson Slappy, Albert G Hakaim, W Andrew Oldenburg, Ricardo Paz-Fumagalli, J Mark McKinney
Vascular and Endovascular Surgery 2003, 37 (2): 105-9
Currently available aortic stent-grafts require bilateral femoral incisions for device deployment. The incidence of morbidity (infection, lymphatic complications, breakdown) of vertical, infrainguinal incisions used in endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) was assessed, and the natural history of asymptomatic groin fluid collections following such procedures was determined. Between June 1999 and February 2001, 77 consecutive patients underwent EVAR for AAAs utilizing bilateral vertical femoral incisions. Fifty-nine (77%) bifurcated stent-grafts (BSGs), and 18 (23%) aortouniiliac (AUI) devices, with femorofemoral bypass were performed. Patients returned at 2 weeks, 1 month, and 6 months for physical examination, and 1 month and 6 months for abdominal and pelvic computed tomography (CT) scans. The presence of fluid collections was determined from the dictation report of the attending radiologist. Data are reported as (n) mean +/-SE. Patient characteristics were compared using Fisher's exact test; p<0.05 considered significant. There were 72 males and 5 females, age 75 +/-6.4 years and aneurysm size (77) 5.6 +/-0.8 cm. There were no cases of wound breakdown or lymph fistula. Wound infections occurred in 3/150 incisions (2%), 2/34 AUI incisions (6%), and 1/116 BSG incisions (0.86%). There was no statistical difference (p=0.13) between graft types (BSG vs AUI). All infections were diagnosed clinically before the 1-month CT scan, treated without operative intervention or hospitalization, and resolved. There was a significant decrease in the BSG group and overall in asymptomatic wound fluid collections from 1 to 6 months postoperatively. At 1 and 6 months, respectively, the BSG group had 17 (14.6%) and 3 (2.6%) fluid collections out of 116 incisions (p=0.003); the AUI group had 6 (17.6%) and 1 (2.9%) fluid collection(s) out of 34 incisions (p=0.13); and overall 23 (15.3%) and 4 (2.6%) out of 150 incisions (p=0.004). The present study demonstrates that bilateral vertical femoral incisions used in EVAR have a wound infection rate of 2.0%. Infections are usually detected and treated clinically and empirically without the need for hospitalization or surgery. Asymptomatic groin wound fluid collections resolve significantly within 6 months without intervention. Therefore, surgical femoral artery exposure adds little morbidity to the endovascular repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms.

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