Thoracic Stent Grafting for Acute Aortic Pathology

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Elective endovascular repair of the thoracic aorta has shown reduced morbidity and mortality when compared with open surgery. The number of studies describing the use of thoracic endovascular stent grafts for acute pathology is limited, however. The purpose of this study was to describe our increasing experience with stent grafting for acute thoracic aortic pathology.


Since January 2002, 28 patients underwent endovascular stent graft treatment for various types of acute thoracic aorta diseases, including complicated Stanford type B dissection (n = 12), ruptured descending aorta aneurysms (n = 7), intramural hematoma (n = 4), traumatic rupture of the thoracic aorta (n = 2), aortopulmonary fistula (n = 2), and penetrating aortic ulcer (n = 1). These acute thoracic aortic syndromes were predominantly localized in the proximal descending thoracic aorta (75%). Talent stent grafts were used in 26 patients and Excluder stent grafts in 2 patients.


Stent graft deployment at the intended position was successful in all patients. There was 1 intraoperative death (3.6%), due to acute myocardial infarction, after successful exclusion of the lesion with a stent graft. Hospital mortality was 21.4% (n = 6). Four of 6 hospital deaths, however, were directly related to the severely compromised clinical status preoperatively, including extensive bowel ischemia and irreversible cerebral damage after resuscitation. New neurologic symptoms were seen in 4 patients. The majority of the neurologic symptoms improved and faded away during hospital stay. Mean follow-up was 11 months (range, 1 to 31), and all the hospital survivors (n = 22) were alive. There was 1 nonrelated stroke 4 months postoperatively. During follow-up, 2 patients required transposition of the left subclavian artery for malperfusion, and 2 patients required a second stent graft procedure for endoleak. Additionally, 2 patients with early type II endoleaks were treated conservatively, and 1 of them sealed spontaneously at 6 months.


Thoracic stent grafting for acute aortic pathology is feasible in critically ill patients. Postoperative morbidity and mortality is predominantly related to the compromised preoperative clinical status, illustrating its use as salvage strategy.

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