Objective: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) expansion and is considered by some to be a relative contraindication to conventional aortic surgery. This study was undertaken to determine if COPD increases operative death, morbidity, intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS), and hospital LOS, after AAA repair.
Methods: Data from national administrative records supplemented with laboratory data previously obtained for a system-wide study were analyzed in a retrospective review of 1053 consecutive patients (264 with and 789 without COPD) undergoing operation for intact or ruptured AAAs in Veterans Administration Hospitals from 1997 to 1998. Bivariate comparisons and multivariate regression were used to evaluate the impact of COPD on the number of days of ventilation, ICU LOS, total hospital LOS, and death, while controlling for other known risk factors, including acute myocardial infarction, renal failure, and age.
Results: The mortality rate in elective aneurysm patients did not differ (P =.99) between patients with (3.7%) or without COPD (3.7%). However, elective AAA repair was associated with longer hospital LOS (14.4 vs 12.3 days, P =.01), longer ICU LOS (6.5 vs 5.4 days, P =.01), and a higher incidence of requiring 96 hours or more ventilation (6.9% vs 3.6%, P =.02) in patients with COPD. Ruptured AAA affected 4.9% of patients and was strongly associated with COPD (P =.02); however, COPD did not result in a statistically significant increase in death (P =.25).
Conclusions: Although COPD does not appear to increase operative death, it is associated with an increased risk of rupture. Elective repair of AAA should not be deferred in patients with COPD despite their higher LOSs and need for postoperative ventilation.