A comparative analysis of open and endovascular repair for the ruptured descending thoracic aorta

Himanshu J Patel, David M Williams, Gilbert R Upchurch, Narasimham L Dasika, G Michael Deeb
Journal of Vascular Surgery 2009, 50 (6): 1265-70

BACKGROUND: Successful repair of the ruptured (non-traumatic) descending thoracic aorta (rTA) remains a formidable clinical challenge. Although effective for rTA, traditional open repair (DTAR) has significant associated morbidity. With expanding indications for thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR), we describe our experience with TEVAR and DTAR in this high-risk setting to elucidate their evolving roles.

METHODS: Since the inception of our thoracic aortic endovascular program in 1993, 69 patients underwent DTAR (34) or TEVAR (35) for rTA. Patients underwent TEVAR if they were considered nonoperative candidates because of extensive comorbidities (n = 31; 88.6%) or had extremely favorable anatomy for endovascular repair (eg, mid-descending saccular aneurysm, n = 4). Aortic pathology causing rupture was fusiform aneurysm (18), saccular aneurysm/ulcer (22), and dissection (29). Associated aortobronchial fistulae (12) and aortoesophageal (1) fistulae were also present in 18.8%. Arch repair was needed in 46; total descending repair was needed in 33. Follow-up was 100% complete (mean 37.4 months).

RESULTS: Mean age was 65.9 years (DTAR 60.3 year vs TEVAR 71.3 years, P = .005). In-hospital or 30-day mortality was seen in 13 patients (TEVAR n = 4; 11.4% vs DTAR n = 9; 26.5%, P = .13). Median length of stay was shorter after TEVAR (8 days vs DTAR 15 days, P = .02). Mean Kaplan-Meier survival was similar between groups (TEVAR 67.4 months vs DTAR 65.0 months, P = .7). By multivariate analysis, independent predictors of a composite outcome of early mortality, stroke, permanent spinal cord ischemia, or need for dialysis or tracheostomy included the presentation with hemodynamic instability (P < .001) and treatment with conventional open repair (P = .02).

CONCLUSION: An endovascular approach for the ruptured (non-traumatic) descending thoracic aorta reduces early morbidity, mortality, and duration of hospitalization, while providing equivalent late outcomes even in an older group largely considered high risk for open repair. These data support a paradigm shift, with TEVAR emerging as the preferred therapy for all patients presenting with descending aortic rupture.

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