An experimental investigation of the impact of thoracic endovascular aortic repair on longitudinal strain†

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To investigate the impact of thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) on longitudinal strain and assess aortic tensile properties in order to better understand complications associated with TEVAR.

METHODS

Twenty fresh thoracic porcine aortas were harvested and connected to a mock circulatory loop driven by a centrifugal flow pump at body temperature. Length measurements were conducted before and after TEVAR through aortic marking, high-definition imaging and custom-developed software under physiological pressure conditions (i.e. between 100 and 180 mmHg with 20 mmHg increments). Longitudinal strain was derived from length amplitude divided by the baseline length at 100 mmHg. Three groups of stent-graft oversizing were created (0–9, 10–19 and 20–29%). Finally, elastic properties of the aortic samples were assessed in both longitudinal and circumferential directions through uniaxial tensile testing. Longitudinal strain was compared before and after TEVAR, and stress-to-rupture was compared among specimens and locations.

RESULTS

TEVAR induced a longitudinal strain decrease from 11.9 to 5.6% (P< 0.001) in the stented segments and a longitudinal strain mismatch between stented (5.6%) and non-stented segments (9.1%, P< 0.001). Stent-graft oversizing did not affect the magnitude of strain reduction (P= 0.77). Tensile testing showed that peak stress-to-rupture was lower for longitudinal (1.4 ± 0.4 MPa) than for circumferential fragments (2.3 ± 0.4 MPa, P< 0.001). In addition, longitudinal fragments were more prone to rupture proximally than distally (P= 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

This experimental study showed that TEVAR acutely stiffens the aorta in the longitudinal direction and thereby induces a strain mismatch, while tensile testing confirmed that longitudinal aortic fragments are most prone to rupture, particularly close to the arch. Such an acute strain mismatch of potentially vulnerable tissue might play a role in TEVAR-related complications, including retrograde dissection and aneurysm formation. The finding that TEVAR stiffens the aorta longitudinally may also shed light on systemic complications following TEVAR, such as hypertension and cardiac remodelling. These observations may imply the need for further improvement of stent-graft designs.

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