Descending Aorta-to-Femoral Artery Bypass: Preliminary Experience With a Thoracoscopic Technique
Descending aorta-to-femoral artery bypass is a durable procedure with excellent long-term patency rates. The operation is usually performed using a lateral thoracotomy combined with retroperitoneal tunneling of the graft. Assuming that a smaller incision would reduce the operative trauma, minimally invasive video endoscopic techniques were used to perform a thoracoscopic bypass operation. In all patients, exposure of the descending aorta was obtained using thoracoscopy. This was accomplished with a maximum of four ports. For placing the conventional side-biting aortic clamp, a 3-to 4-cm incision was necessary. Using this incision as an access port, the proximal anastomosis was sutured endoscopically. Retroperitoneal tunneling was performed using laparoscopically guided balloon dissection. Eleven consecutive patients underwent surgery. In two patients, conversion to a standard thoracotomy was necessary because of extensive intrathoracic adhesions. There were no major complications, except for one hematoma. After a mean follow-up of 9.5 months, all bypass grafts were still patent. Patients could be discharged after a mean postprocedural hospital stay of 7.4 days (range, 5–12). Thoracoscopic descending aorta-to-femoral artery bypass is an operation with excellent patency rates; however, it is a novel technique that still requires further technical improvements. Clinical studies are needed to prove the safety and efficacy of this minimally invasive technique.