The Cardioplastic Approach to the Treatment of Infected Aortic Grafts

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BackgroundAortic graft infection (AGI) is a rare complication following reconstructive aortic surgery, yet it represents a significant source of morbidity and mortality. There is no consensus regarding the optimal surgical management, due in part to the small cohorts of patient reports. Pedicled muscle or omental flap coverage of AGI has been shown to improve outcomes, making them a valuable consideration in the treatment algorithm. Thus, we aim to compile and evaluate cases of autologous vascularized tissue (AVT) in the treatment of infected aortic grafts, summarizing location specific trends, treatments, and outcomes.MethodsA comprehensive review of peer-reviewed literature regarding the management of AGI was performed. Data collected included patient characteristics, original procedure, pathogen, infection location, tissue utilized, technique of tissue isolation and delivery, staging, outcome, length of follow-up, and level of evidence.ResultsNinety-four cases of AGI managed with AVT transfer were identified. Infection of ascending aorta grafts accounted for 59% of cases, followed by a combination of ascending aorta and aortic arch (21%), the descending thoracic aorta (18%), and the thoracoabdominal aorta (2%). The infected graft was preserved in 81% of cases, followed by debridement and AVT coverage. The omentum was the most commonly applied flap (69%) for all divisions of the aorta followed by the pectoralis major (19%), the rectus abdominis (5%), and latissimus dorsi (4%). Mortality was limited, and the Powered by Editorial Manager and ProduXion Manager from Aries Systems Corporation overall survival was 93% (7 deaths), with a mean follow-up of 33.5 months.ConclusionsAutologous vascularized tissue coverage has proven to be a successful approach for treatment of infected aortic grafts. Although the incidence of AGI is rare, it represents an area of scarce evidence-based literature that warrants increased attention and surgical refinement. These results, which show a remarkably low infection-related mortality rate (3%), should encourage interdisciplinary collaboration with the plastic surgeon, cardiothoracic surgeon, and infectious disease specialists with the goal of improving outcomes in the treatment of infected aortic grafts.

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