Emergency surgery for thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms with acute presentation

J Vasc Surg. 2002 Jun;35(6):1171-8. doi: 10.1067/mva.2002.123320.


Purpose: The mortality rate for elective repair of thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms is as low as 4% in some surgical centers. However, patients with emergent presentation with acute pain, rupture, or complicated acute dissection traditionally have a poor outcome. We evaluated the results of surgery in a large contemporary series of patients with acute presentation at a tertiary referral center with a special interest and experience in aortic surgery.

Methods: Between 1986 and 1998, 1220 patients underwent repair of thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms. One hundred twelve patients had acute presentation, and 1108 patients underwent elective repair. Data were collected in a prospectively generated database.

Results: Seventy-six patients had rupture, and 36 patients had acute dissection without rupture. The operative mortality rate was 6% for elective cases and 17% for acute cases (P =.0004). The long-term survival was longer for the elective group compared with the acute group (mean, 8.3 +/- 0.4 years versus 5.5 +/- 0.7 years; P <.005). Age did not influence survival rate in the acute group. Postoperative pulmonary complications, paraplegia/paraparesis, and renal impairment occurred in 45%, 14%, and 25%, respectively, of acute cases and were significantly more common than in elective cases (P < or =.01). Left heart bypass was used in 34 acute patients (30%), and intercostal arteries were reattached in 66 acute patients (59%). Surgery without the use of either adjunct was associated with significantly higher mortality and renal impairment rates.

Conclusion: Repair of thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms with acute presentation is associated with worse outcome compared with elective cases. Nevertheless, repair may be performed with reasonable mortality and morbidity rates at specialized centers. In the acute setting, the use of surgical adjuncts is associated with improved outcome and should be used when possible. Age does not impact on survival rate in patients with acute presentation, and surgery should not be restricted to only younger patients.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / mortality
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / surgery*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Thoracic / mortality
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Thoracic / surgery*
  • Aortic Dissection / mortality
  • Aortic Dissection / surgery
  • Aortic Rupture / mortality
  • Aortic Rupture / surgery
  • Cause of Death
  • Databases, Factual
  • Emergency Treatment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome