Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm: the state of play

Michael Gawenda, Jan Brunkwall
Deutsches Ärzteblatt International 2012, 109 (43): 727-32

BACKGROUND: Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (rAAA) remains a challenging problem: 2,410 cases were treated in Germany in 2010. Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm should be suspected in patients over age 50 who complain of pain in the abdomen or back and in whom examination reveals a pulsatile abdominal mass. The incidence of hospitalization for rAAA is 12 per 100,000 persons over age 65 per year (statistics for Germany, 2010), and rAAA carries an overall mortality of 80%.

METHODS: The current state of knowledge of rAAA was surveyed in a selective review of pertinent literature retrieved by an electronic search in the PubMed, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases with the keywords "abdominal aortic aneurysm," "ruptured," "open repair," and "endovascular." Publications in English or German up to and including March 2012 were considered, among them the Clinical Practice Guidelines of the European Society for Vascular Surgery (1).

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Recent reports show that the treatment of rAAA is still fraught with high mortality and high perioperative morbidity. Improvement is needed. It would be advisable for the care of rAAA to be centralized in specialized vascular centers implementing defined treatment pathways. Systematic screening, too, would be beneficial. An increasing number of reports suggest that endovascular treatment with stent prostheses improves outcomes; more definitive evidence on this matter will come from prospective, randomized trials that are now in progress.

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