Improving results of elective abdominal aortic aneurysm repair at a low-volume hospital by risk-adjusted selection of treatment in the endovascular era

Andreas Wibmer, Bernhard Meyer, Thomas Albrecht, Heinz-Johannes Buhr, Martin Kruschewski
Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology 2009, 32 (5): 918-22
Several studies have observed both higher mortality rates and lower utilization of endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) at low-volume centers. This article presents the results of elective abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair at a low-volume center in the endovascular era and investigates whether postprocedural mortality can be improved by extension of EVAR application also in this setting. This is an 11.6-year retrospective cohort study of 132 patients undergoing elective surgical or endovascular AAA repair at a tertiary care academic hospital between 1997 and July 2008, i.e., a median volume of 12 cases per year. The study was divided into two periods of time according to the respective indications and contraindications for EVAR, which substantially changed in 2005. During period 1, only aneurysms with necks > or =20 mm long and not involving the iliac arteries were treated endoluminally. Beginning in 2005, indication for EVAR was expanded to aortoiliac aneurysms with a minimum neck length of 15 mm. Preoperative risk was assessed by the SVS/AAVS comorbidity score. During the first period (1997-2004) 18.4% (16/87) of all patients received EVAR. By extending anatomical confines and indications for EVAR in 2005, the utilization rate of EVAR increased to 40.0% (18/45) during the second period (2005-July 2008; p = 0.007). Prevalence of preoperative risk factors did not change during the two observation periods. In contrast to period 1, high-risk patients were preferentially treated endoluminally during the second period, resulting in a significantly higher median SVS/AAVS score in the EVAR group (p < 0.001). A significant decrease in median length of stay at the intensive/intermediate care unit (5 vs. 2 days; p = 0.006) and length of in-hospital stay (20 vs. 12.5 days; p < 0.001) was observed during period 2. Overall perioperative mortality was reduced from 6.9% during the first period to 2.2% during the second period (p = 0.256). EVAR mortality was 0%, mortality after open repair was reduced from 8.5% to 3.7% (p = 0.414). In conclusion, by risk-adjusted selection of treatment and frequent application of EVAR, it is possible to improve perioperative outcome of elective AAA repair at a low-volume hospital. Mortality figures are similar to those of recent trials at high-volume centers, as reported in the literature.

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