Impending Aortoenteric Hemorrhage: The Effect of Early Recognition on Improved Outcome

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Aortoenteric hemorrhage is the result of enteric erosion and necrosis of aortic wall or anastomotic site. Mechanical or bacteriologic causes may occur singly or in combination. The temporal sequence is such that warning symptoms, often including back pain, fever, hemotochezia, and anemia, are present long before exsanguinating hemorrhage occurs. Vigorous diagnostic efforts, including gallium-67 citrate nuclear scan and computerized axial tomography, lead to a correct diagnosis. This allows planned semielective corrective operation before severe hemorrhage begins. The ideal operation consists of extra-anatomic revascularization, excision of the infected prosthesis, bowel repair with decompression, and sump drainage. Appropriate antimicrobial therapy should be continued until healing is complete. With aggressive diagnostic and therapeutic intervention according to this plan, marked improvement in survival and limb preservation can be anticipated in patients having this complication of aortic surgery. In this series, 15 of 18 patients having operation recovered, though delayed limb loss occurred in two.

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