Reconsidering gender relative to risk of rupture in the contemporary management of abdominal aortic aneurysms

Afshin A Skibba, James R Evans, Steven P Hopkins, H Richard Yoon, Tony Katras, John H Kalbfleisch, Daniel S Rush
Journal of Vascular Surgery 2015, 62 (6): 1429-36

OBJECTIVE: Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) may rupture at smaller diameters in women than in men, and women may be at higher risk and have poorer outcomes in elective and emergent interventions because of age and comorbidities. Practice guidelines recommending elective AAA repair at >5.5 cm are gender neutral and may not adequately reflect increased risks in women or the potential advantages of elective lower risk endovascular procedures.

METHODS: Patients with a diagnosis of AAA discharged from a single referral hospital during a 14-year period were identified for retrospective analysis.

RESULTS: A total of 2121 patients with AAAs were studied, 499 women (23.5%) and 1622 men (76.5%). Women were older and had a greater incidence of hypertension, smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dyslipidemia, and renal insufficiency. Intact AAAs in 467 women had a mean diameter of 4.4 ± 1.3 cm compared with 1538 men at 5.0 ± 1.4 cm (P < .01). The ruptured AAAs in 32 women (6.4%) had a mean diameter of 6.1 ± 1.5 cm compared with 84 men (5.2%) at 7.7 ± 1.9 cm (P < .01). Women had a twofold increased frequency of AAA rupture than men at all size intervals (P < .01). The frequency of ruptured AAAs <5.5 cm among 10 of 32 women with ruptured AAAs was 31.3%; among 7 of 84 men with ruptured AAAs, it was 8.3% (P < .01). The frequency of ruptured AAAs <5.5 cm in all 383 women with AAAs <5.5 cm was 2.6%; in 1042 men, it was 0.6% (P < .01). Of the 1211 AAA repairs, 574 (47.4%) were open aneurysm repair (OAR) and 637 (52.6%) were endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR). Mortality after elective OAR in 475 patients of both sexes was 5.1%; for EVAR in 676 patients, mortality was 1.6% (P < .01). No differences in mortality with respect to OAR or EVAR were found between the female and male cohorts in either intact or ruptured AAAs.

CONCLUSIONS: Women with AAAs are older and have a higher frequency of cardiovascular risk factors than men. Women rupture AAAs with a greater frequency than men at all size intervals and have a fourfold increased frequency of rupture at <5.5 cm. No differences in surgical mortality between women and men were found. Current practice guidelines for elective AAA operative intervention should be reconsidered and stratified by gender.

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