Silent Cerebral Ischemia After Thoracic Endovascular Aortic Repair: A Neuroimaging Study

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The risk of clinically apparent, periprocedural stroke after thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) due to dislodgement and embolization of aortic debris from intravascular manipulation of guidewires, catheters, and large-bore delivery systems ranges between 2% and 6% and has been associated with increased postoperative mortality. The rate of clinically silent cerebral ischemia is yet unknown, but may be even higher.


Nineteen patients (13 male, 6 female) who underwent TEVAR were included into this descriptive study. Periprocedural apparent and silent cerebral ischemia was assessed by daily clinical neurologic assessment and serial cerebral diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) at baseline and 5 days (median, interquartile range: 3.5) after the procedure.


The TEVAR was successful in all patients without immediate clinically apparent neurologic deficits. Postinterventional cerebral DW-MRI detected a total of 29 new foci of restricted diffusion in 12 of 19 TEVAR patients (63%). Lesions were usually multiple (1 to 6 lesions per patient) and ranged in size between 15 mm3 and 300 mm3; 16 lesions were found in the left hemisphere, 13 lesions in the right hemisphere. Overstenting of the left subclavian artery was performed in 8 cases, but was not associated with lateralization of lesions. There were no additional apparent neurologic events during the in-hospital period.


Thoracic endovascular aortic repair resulted in a high incidence of new foci of restricted diffusion on cerebral DW-MRI in a pattern suggestive of periprocedural embolization. Although multiple lesions per patients were found, these lesions were not associated with apparent neurologic deficits during the in-hospital period. Further developments in TEVAR should be directed toward reducing the risk of periprocedural cerebral embolization.

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