Is the frozen elephant trunk procedure superior to the conventional elephant trunk procedure for completion of the second stage?†

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Our goal was to compare the results and outcomes of second-stage completion in patients who had previously undergone the elephant trunk (ET) or the frozen elephant trunk (FET) procedure for the treatment of complex aortic arch and descending aortic disease.


Between August 2001 and December 2014, 53 patients [mean age 61 ± 13 years, 64% (n = 34) male] underwent a second-stage completion procedure. Of these patients, 32% (n = 17) had a previous ET procedure and 68% (n = 36) a previous FET procedure as a first-stage procedure.


The median times to the second-stage procedure were 7 (0-78) months in the ET group and 8 (0-66) months in the FET group. The second-stage procedure included thoracic endovascular aortic repair in 53% (n = 28) of patients and open surgical repair in 47% (n = 25). More endovascular interventions were performed in FET patients (61%, n = 22) than in the ET group (35%, n = 6, P = 0.117). The in-hospital mortality rate was significantly lower in the FET (8%, n = 3) group compared with the ET group (29%, n = 5, P = 0.045). The median follow-up time after the second-stage operation for the entire cohort was 4.6 (0.4-10.4) years. The 5-year survival rate was 76% in the ET patients versus 89% in the FET patients (log-rank: P = 0.11).


We observed a significantly lower in-hospital mortality rate in the FET group compared to the ET group. This result might be explained by the higher rate of endovascular completion in the FET group. We assume that the FET procedure offers the benefit of a more ideal landing zone, thus facilitating endovascular completion.

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