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Aortic elastic fiber degeneration during acute type a aortic dissection and reverse aortic remodeling.

BACKGROUND: Progression of proximal or distal aortic dilatation is defined as reverse aortic remodeling after surgery for acute type A aortic dissection (ATAAD) that may be dependent on aortic wall degeneration.

METHODS: We investigated whether aortic wall degeneration is associated with reverse aortic remodeling leading to aortic reoperation after surgery for ATAAD. Altogether, 141 consecutive patients undergoing surgery for ATAAD at Tampere were evaluated. The resected ascending aortic wall at surgery was processed for 42 degenerative, atherosclerotic and inflammatory histological variables. Patients undergoing aortic reoperations (Redos) were compared with those without aortic reoperations (Controls) during a mean 4.9-year follow-up.

RESULTS: Redos were younger than Controls (56 and 66 years, respectively, P < 0.001), and had less frequently previous cardiac surgery prior to ATAAD. Initial surgery encompassed replacement of the ascending aorta in the majority. There were 21 Redos in which one patient died during follow-up as compared with 51 deaths in Controls (log Rank P = 0.002). Histology of the aortic wall revealed increased elastic fiber fragmentation, loss, and disorganization in Redos as compared with Controls (2.1 ± 0.5 vs. 1.9 ± 0.5, Point score unit (PSU), P = 0.043 and 1.7 ± 0.8 vs. 1.2 ± 0.8, PSU, P = 0.016, respectively). Moderate atherosclerosis occurred less often in Redos vs. Controls (9.5% vs. 33%, PSU, P = 0.037, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: According to this exploratory study, histopathology reveals distinctive aortic wall degeneration during ATAAD. Reverse aortic remodeling after ATAAD is associated with the presence of ascending aortic wall elastic fiber fragmentation, loss and disorganization during ATAAD.

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