Although some authors advocate hypothermic circulatory arrest for spinal cord protection in descending thoracic and thoracoabdominal repair, this method has been associated with high morbidity and mortality rates in other studies. The safety and effectiveness of this surgical adjunct were evaluated.Methods:
Between February 1991 and April 1997, 409 patients underwent thoracic or thoracoabdominal aortic repair. Because of an inability to gain proximal aortic control because of anatomic or technical difficulty, hypothermic circulatory arrest was used in 21 patients (4.9%). Thirteen patients were men, 8 were women, and the median age was 57 (range, 21 to 81 years). Four patients (19%) had Marfan's syndrome, and 1 had aortitis. Seven patients (33%) had aortic dissection (4 chronic type A, 2 chronic type B, 1 acute B), and 1 had aortic laceration. All but 6 patients had hypertension. Fifteen patients (73%) were operated on for repair of the distal arch and descending thoracic aorta, 4 (19%) for repair of the distal arch and thoracoabdominal aorta, and 2 for repair of either the thoracoabdominal or descending thoracic aorta alone. Surgery for 9 patients (43%) also included bypass grafts to the subclavian or innominate arteries. Six operations (29%) were urgent.Results:
The overall 30-day mortality rate was 29% (6 of 21 patients). Among urgent patients, the mortality rate was 50% (3 of 6 patients) versus 20% (3 of 15) for elective patients. Of the remaining 15 patients, renal failure occurred in 1 (7%) and heart failure in 2 (13%). Ten patients (67%) had pulmonary complications. Encephalopathy occurred in 5 patients (33%) and stroke in 2 (13%), and spinal cord neurologic deficit developed in 2 (13%). The median recovery was 28 days (range, 10 to 157 days).Conclusion:
Hypothermic circulatory arrest did not reduce the incidence of deaths and morbidity to a rate comparable with our conventional methods. We recommend the judicious application of this method in rare instances when proximal control is not feasible or catastrophic intraoperative bleeding leave the surgeon with no other option.