Endovascular repair or surveillance of patients with small AAA

C K Zarins, T Crabtree, F R Arko, M A Heikkinen, D A Bloch, K Ouriel, R A White
European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery 2005, 29 (5): 496-503; discussion 504

OBJECTIVE: To compare the outcome of patients with small abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) treated in a prospective trial of endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) to patients randomized to the surveillance arm of the UK Small Aneurysm Trial.

METHOD: All patients with small AAA (< or = 5.5 cm diameter) treated with a stent graft (EVARsmall) in the multicenter AneuRx clinical trial from 1997 to 1999 were reviewed with follow up through 2003. A subgroup of patients (EVARmatch) who met the age (60-76 years) and aneurysm size (4.0-5.5 cm diameter) inclusion criteria of the UK Small Aneurysm Trial were compared to the published results of the surveillance patient cohort (UKsurveil) of the UK Small Aneurysm Trial (NEJM 346:1445, 2002). Endpoints of comparison were aneurysm rupture, fatal aneurysm rupture, operative mortality, aneurysm related death and overall mortality. The total patient years of follow-up for EVAR patients was 1369 years and for UK patients was 3048 years. Statistical comparisons of EVARmatch and UKsurveil patients were made for rates per 100 patient years of follow up (/100 years) to adjust for differences in follow-up time.

RESULTS: The EVARsmall group of 478 patients comprised 40% of the total number of patients treated during the course of the AneuRx clinical trial. The EVARmatch group of 312 patients excluded 151 patients for age < 60 or > 76 years and 15 patients for AAA diameter < 4 cm. With the exception of age, there were no significant differences between EVARsmall and EVARmatch in pre-operative factors or post-operative outcomes. In comparison to the UKsurveil group of 527 patients, the EVARmatch group was slightly older (70 +/- 4 vs. 69 +/- 4 years, p = 0.009), had larger aneurysms (5.0 +/- 0.3 vs. 4.6 +/- 0.4 cm, p < 0.001), fewer women (7 vs. 18%, p < 0.001), and had a higher prevalence of diabetes and hypertension and a lower prevalence of smoking at baseline. Ruptures occurred in 1.6% of EVARmatch patients and 5.1% of UKsurveil patients; this difference was not significant when adjusted for the difference in length of follow up. Fatal aneurysm rupture rate, adjusted for follow up time, was four times higher in UKsurveil (0.8/100 patient years) than in EVARmatch (0.2/100 patient years, p < 0.001); this difference remained significant when adjusted for difference in gender mix. Elective operative mortality rate was significantly lower in EVARmatch (1.9%) than in UKsurveil (5.9%, p < 0.01). Aneurysm-related death rate was two times higher in UKsurveil (1.6/100 patient years) than in EVARmatch (0.8/100 patient years, p = 0.03). All-cause mortality rate was significantly higher in UKsurveil (8.3/100 patient years) than in EVARmatch (6.4/100 patient years, p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS: It appears that endovascular repair of small abdominal aortic aneurysms (4.0-5.5 cm) significantly reduces the risk of fatal aneurysm rupture and aneurysm-related death and improves overall patient survival compared to an ultrasound surveillance strategy with selective open surgical repair.

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