Objective: The feasibility and efficacy trial of an endovascular stent-grafting system for the treatment of aneurysms of the descending thoracic aorta was investigated.
Methods: After Institutional Review Board approval, 103 patients (mean age 69 years) underwent stent graft repair of a descending thoracic aortic aneurysm between July 1992 and November 1997. The stent graft was fabricated using self-expanding "Z" stents covered by a woven Dacron tube graft. Follow-up, which averaged 22 months, was 100% complete. Simultaneous open abdominal aortic aneurysm repair was performed in 19 patients.
Results: Complete aneurysm thrombosis was achieved in 86 patients (83%). Early mortality, defined as a death during the same hospitalization or in less than 30 days, was 9 +/- 3%, and was significantly associated with preoperative cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or myocardial infarction. Major perioperative morbidity occurred in 31 patients, and included paraplegia in 3, CVA in 7, and respiratory insufficiency in 12 patients each. Actuarial survival was 81 +/- 4% at 1 year, and 73 +/- 5% at 2 years. Treatment failure (including all late, sudden, unexplained deaths) occurred in 38 patients, and only 53 +/- 10% of patients were free of treatment failure at 3.7 years. Five patients required late operative therapy for endoleaks associated with aneurysm enlargement.
Conclusions: Satisfactory results were achieved using this "first-generation" homemade stent graft device. Mortality and morbidity occurred frequently, but may have been associated with the high-risk character of this patient population. Medium-term results were acceptable, but continued aortic enlargement, with the late development of endoleaks, is a significant concern. Second-generation devices with commercial development, coupled with this initial experience, should allow improved clinical results in the future. Longer term follow-up is still necessary to fully define the efficacy of this endovascular approach.