Evaluation of conventional and frozen elephant trunk techniques on spinal cord blood flow in an animal model†

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES

The treatment of patients with extensive thoracic aortic disease involving the arch and descending aorta is often performed using the frozen elephant trunk technique (FET). Spinal cord blood flow (SCBF) in cervical, thoracic and lumbar sections prior, during and after aortic arch surgery were compared in conventional elephant trunk (cET) and FET technique in a pig model.

METHODS

German Landrace pigs (75-85 kg) underwent aortic arch surgery using the FET (n = 8) or cET (n = 8) techniques. The E-vita Open hybrid stent graft was applied in all FET animals. Regional SCBF was measured 4 times: (i) before cardiopulmonary bypass, (ii) after 1 h, (iii) after 3 h, and (iv) after 6 h of reperfusion using fluorescence microspheres. Spinal cord segments were examined histopathologically and by immunohistochemistry.

RESULTS

SCBF in FET decreased significantly from 0.13 ± 0.03 to 0.05 ± 0.02 ml/min/g after 1 h (P = 0.047). While at 3 h of reperfusion, SCBF increased and was comparable to baseline (0.09 ± 0.01 ml/min/g), beyond this time SCBF decreased again (0.05 ± 0.02 ml/min/g). A similar trend was found for SCBF in the cET group (baseline: 0.16 ± 0.04 ml/min/g, 1 h reperfusion: 0.02 ± 0.01 ml/min/g, 3 h reperfusion: 0.03 ± 0.01 ml/min/g and 6 h reperfusion: 0.02 ± 0.01 ml/min/g, P = 0.019). Cervical, thoracic and lumbar SCBF were also comparable in both groups. Histological analyses of spinal cord showed no differences in necrosis between cET and FET, while no differences were found for hypoxia-inducible factor-1α and apoptosis-inducing factor. In contrast, oxidative stress and caspase-induced apoptosis were higher in cET versus FET.

CONCLUSIONS

The SCBF changed significantly during extensive aortic arch surgery with circulatory arrest and moderate hypothermia, but such changes were comparable between the FET and cET groups. The implantation of hybrid stent graft did not influence SCBF in thoracic and lumbar segments of the spinal cord. The immunohistological examination showed no differences between cET and FET regarding ischaemic damage and hypoxia-induced effects in spinal cord segments.

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