Endografting of the thoracic aorta:

Venkatesh Ramaiah, Julio Rodriguez-Lopez, Edward B Diethrich
Journal of Cardiac Surgery 2003, 18 (5): 444-54

BACKGROUND: Thoracic aortic dissections, ruptures, fistulae, and aneurysms pose a unique surgical challenge. Traditional repair of thoracic aortic aneurysms involves thoracotomy with graft interposition. Despite advances in perioperative care and both total and partial cardiopulmonary bypass, conventional surgery carries a significant morbidity and mortality. Principal complications include bleeding, paraplegia, stroke, cardiac events, pulmonary insufficiency, and renal failure. Recent enthusiasm for innovative endovascular therapies to treat aortic disease has spurred many centers to investigate endoluminal grafting of the thoracic aorta. Early reports on endovascular repair using custom made "first generation devices" demonstrated the technique to be feasible with a mortality and morbidity comparable to open repair.

METHODS AND RESULTS: From February 2000 to February 2001, endovascular stent graft repair of the thoracic aorta was performed in 46 patients (mean age 70; 29 male and 17 female) using the Gore Excluder. Twenty-three patients (50%) had atherosclerotic aneurysms, fourteen patients (30%) had dissections, three patients (7%) had aortobronochial fistulas, three patients (7%) had pseudoaneurysms, two patients (4%) had traumatic ruptures, and one patient (2%) had a ruptured aortic ulcer. Patient characteristics, procedural variables, outcomes, and complications were recorded. All patients were followed with chest CT scans at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. Mean follow up was 9 months ranging from 1 to 15 months. All procedures were technically successful. There were no conversions. Average duration of the procedure was 120 minutes. Average length of stay was 6 days, but most patients left the hospital within 4 days (64%) after endoluminal grafting. Overall morbidity was 23%. Two patients (4%) had endoleaks that required a second procedure for successful repair. Two patients (4%) died in the immediate postoperative period. There were no cases of paraplegia. At follow-up, one patient had an endoleak found the day after the procedure and another patient had an endoleak 6 moths post procedure. Both were treated successfully with additional stent grafts. There were no cases of migration. One patient died of a myocardial infarction 6 months after graft placement. The Gore Excluder device was voluntarily recalled on February 26, 2001. Therefore, from June 2000 to January 2001, 37 patients underwent endovascular stent graft repair of the thoracic aorta for various disease entities using our customized thoracic graft (Endomed). Twenty-seven patients (73%) had aneurysms, six (16%) had dissections, two (5%) had pseudoaneurysms, one (2%) had a traumatic transection, and one patient (2%) had an embolizing ulcer. Patients were followed with CT scans at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. All procedures were technically successful. There were no conversions. The average age was 68 years.(17-87). And the male and female ratio was 24/13. One patient died in the operating room from iliac rupture and one died from embolization/stroke in the immediate postoperative period. Two patients died within 30 days from comorbid factors. The total 30-day mortality was 10%. Two patients had endoleaks. One returned to the operating room and needed an additional cuff. The other had a small leak in a proximal dissection that is being followed. There were no cases of paraplegia.

CONCLUSION: Thoracic endoluminal grafting is a safe and feasible alternative to open graft repair and can be performed successfully with good results. Early data suggest that an endoluminal approach to these disease entities maybe favorable to open resection and graft replacement. Technical details of Endoluminal stent grafting of the thoracic aorta for different disease entities have been discussed at length.

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