Perioperative management and outcomes of aortic surgery during pregnancy

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Abstract

Objective:

Pathology of the aortic valve and ascending thoracic aorta is an uncommon but life-threatening complication of pregnancy. Cardiac surgery during pregnancy is known to carry a high risk of mortality to both the mother and fetus. We present our experience of performing aortic surgery during the patients' pregnancy.

Methods:

All patients undergoing aortic surgery during pregnancy at St George's Hospital, from January 2004 until October 2013, were identified. Surgery was performed using cardiopulmonary bypass at 36°C, with pulsatile perfusion at 70 mm Hg. Fetal blood flow parameters were serially monitored during surgery, via transabdominal and/or transvaginal Doppler ultrasonography. Surgery was performed in the second trimester when possible to allow completion of organogenesis and minimize hemodynamic compromise.

Results:

Eleven patients underwent aortic surgery. The median age was 28 years (range, 26-31 years), with gestational age 19 weeks (range, 16-21 weeks). Six patients had aortic root dilatation with aortic regurgitation, and 5 had aortic stenosis, one of whom presented with acute type A dissection. Four patients had Marfan syndrome, and 2 had undergone previous cardiac surgery. The operative procedures were aortic root replacement (tissue valve, n = 5; homograft, n = 1), aortic valve replacement (n = 3), valve-sparing root replacement (n = 1), and aortic and mitral valve replacements (n = 1). Mean cardiopulmonary bypass and cross-clamp times were 105 and 89 minutes, respectively. There were no maternal deaths; 8 healthy babies were born at term, and 3 pregnancies resulted in intrauterine demise within 1 week of surgery.

Conclusions:

Major aortic surgery during pregnancy carries a high risk to both mother and baby. With appropriate maternal and fetal monitoring, attention to cardiopulmonary bypass, pulsatile perfusion, near-normothermia, and avoidance of vasoconstrictors, these risks may be minimized.

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