Background: The standard treatment for acute aortic dissection is either surgical or medical therapy, depending on the morphologic features of the lesion and any associated complications. Irrespective of the form of treatment, the associated mortality and morbidity are considerable.
Methods: We studied the placement of endovascular stent-grafts across the primary entry tear for the management of acute aortic dissection originating in the descending thoracic aorta. We evaluated the feasibility, safety, and effectiveness of transluminal stent-graft placement over the entry tear in 4 patients with acute type A aortic dissections (which involve the ascending aorta) and 15 patients with acute type B aortic dissections (which are confined to the descending aorta). Dissections involved aortic branches in 14 of the 19 patients (74 percent), and symptomatic compromise of multiple branch vessels was observed in 7 patients (37 percent). The stent-grafts were made of self-expanding stainless-steel covered with woven polyester or polytetrafluoroethylene material.
Results: Placement of endovascular stent-grafts across the primary entry tears was technically successful in all 19 patients. Complete thrombosis of the thoracic aortic false lumen was achieved in 15 patients (79 percent), and partial thrombosis was achieved in 4 (21 percent). Revascularization of ischemic branch vessels, with subsequent relief of corresponding symptoms, occurred in 76 percent of the obstructed branches. Three of the 19 patients died within 30 days, for an early mortality rate of 16 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 0 to 32 percent). There were no deaths and no instances of aneurysm or aortic rupture during the subsequent average follow-up period of 13 months.
Conclusions: These initial results suggest that stent-graft coverage of the primary entry tear may be a promising new treatment for selected patients with acute aortic dissection. This technique requires further evaluation, however, to assess its therapeutic potential fully.