Twenty-Year Experience with Aorto-Enteric Fistula Repair: Gastrointestinal Complications Predict Mortality.

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Aorto-enteric fistulas (AEF) represent a lethal subset of aortic graft infections. The optimal management of AEF remains unclear. We aimed to identify predictors of morbidity and mortality.


We performed a single-center retrospective review of consecutive AEF repairs. Demographics, comorbidities, and perioperative variables were obtained. Descriptive statistics, chi-square, Kruskall-Wallis, and Cox proportional-hazards modeling were used where appropriate.


Between June 1995 and October 2014, 50 patients (30 male; 60%) presented with AEF, with a median age of 70 years (interquartile range [IQR] 61 to 75 years). Median follow-up for the entire cohort was 14 months (IQR 5 to 27 months). Thirty-four (68%) subjects underwent aortic reconstruction with femoral vein; 12 (24%) with extra-anatomic bypass and aortic ligation; 3 (6%) with rifampin-soaked Dacron graft; and 1 (2%) with cryopreserved aortic allograft. The duodenum was the most common location of the enteric defect (n = 40, 80%). Duodenal leak complicated 6 (12%) of the primary enteric repairs, but none of the complex enteric repairs performed with resection and/or bypass. Twenty-three patients (46%) died by 60 days. Advanced age, chronic renal insufficiency, any complications, and gastrointestinal (GI) complications (n = 13, 26%) were all associated with an increase in overall mortality on univariate analysis (p < 0.05). Gastrointestinal complications (hazard ratio [HR] 3.23; 95% CI 1.27 to 8.25; p = 0.015) and advanced age (HR 1.07; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.13; p = 0.01) were the only independent predictors of mortality on multivariable regression models.


Over 20 years, approximately 50% of patients with AEF repairs died within 60 days. Gastrointestinal complications increase the risk of mortality more than 3-fold, representing an attractive surgically modifiable risk factor. Future multicenter studies are required to clarify optimal methods of arterial and GI reconstruction in AEF.

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