Descending thoracic aortic mural thrombus presentation and treatment strategies

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Thoracic aortic mural thrombus (TAMT) of the descending aorta is rare but can result in dramatic embolic events. Early treatment is therefore crucial; however, there is not a consensus on ideal initial treatment.


A review of the literature using PubMed was conducted, and all relevant publications describing descending TAMT of the past 15 years were reviewed. Variables included for this analysis were presentation, initial treatment strategy employed, outcome measures of thrombus resolution or regression, recurrence of symptomatic emboli, and mortality.


Seventy-four patients were included in this analysis. Women were significantly more likely to be described with descending TAMT. The majority (82.4%) of cases reported were diagnosed after an embolic event. Patients were equally likely to receive medical, open surgical, or endovascular therapy as the initial treatment modality. However, there is a trend within the past 5 years to report cases describing successful thoracic endovascular aortic repair for initial management. Of patients who initially underwent medical management, nine patients (34.6%) had persistent thrombus. Of the patients who initially underwent open surgical repair, six patients (31.6%) had persistent thrombus; of these patients, four underwent endovascular repair. Twenty-nine patients (39.2%) with descending TAMT initially underwent thoracic endovascular aortic repair. Twenty-seven (93.1%) had fully excluded thrombus at the time of the procedure, with no recurrence or evidence of repeated embolic phenomena at follow-up.


Whereas mural thrombus of the thoracic aorta is uncommon, it must be considered in the differential diagnosis of embolic events. Although endovascular therapy may be a useful first-line option for TAMT with reports of positive outcomes in select literature, further study of this treatment option is required.

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