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The role of aortic stent grafting in the treatment of atheromatous embolization syndrome: results after a mean of 15 months follow-up.

BACKGROUND: Endovascular stent-graft (ESG) repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) has emerged as an alternative to open surgery. The role of ESG in patients with challenging medical and anatomic problems remains an area of general debate. This study reviews an experience with stent grafts to treat patients with AAA and atheromatous embolization syndrome (AES) presenting with chronic distal embolization (CDE).

METHODS: Over a 5-year period 660 patients with AAA were treated with aortic stent grafts. Patients with AAA and ischemic ulcerations or toe gangrene due to CDE despite palpable foot pulses were investigated for successful aneurysm exclusion, resolution of ischemic symptoms, complications and survival. Follow-up averaged 15.3 +/- 14.9 months (range, 1 to 60 months).

RESULTS: Nineteen patients had AAA and manifestations of CDE. The population (16 males/3 females) had a mean age of 79 +/- 7 years and mean aneurysm diameter of 5.5 cm. Renal insufficiency was present in 5/19 (26 %). Ischemia presented as ischemic ulcers (16/19 [84.2%]) or toe gangrene (3/19 [15.8%]). Stent grafts included 6 aortouniiliac and 13 bifurcated devices. Exclusion was achieved in all but 2 patients who had type II lumbar endoleaks. At 30-day postoperative follow-up, mortality was 0 % and resolution of CDE/ischemia was noted in 2 of 19 (10.5%) patients. Eight of 9 patients with follow-up of 1 year had complete resolution of their ischemic symptoms, with no recurrent manifestations of AES. Complications included progression of renal insufficiency over an 18-month period in 1 patient and an unstable expanding pararenal aortic neck in 1 patient. Foot ischemia persisted at 1 year in a patient with severe coexisting thoracic aortic disease despite successful AAA exclusion. Six (31.6%) patients died during a mean follow-up of 15.3 months from causes unrelated to their AAA.

CONCLUSION: On the basis of this experience, stent-graft repair of AAA and CDE may be an effective strategy to prevent future embolization. Recognition of coexisting thoracic aortic disease is essential. ESG does not address the extremely high morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular causes in this population.

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