Objective: A preferred technique for the staged treatment of patients with aneurysms involving the entire thoracic aorta is the elephant trunk technique, with replacement of the proximal (ascending and transverse aortic arch) aorta as the initial procedure. Some patients, however, need to have the distal aortic segments (descending and thoracoabdominal aorta) addressed during the first operation. We evaluated outcomes in a series of patients who underwent distal aortic replacement first using the reversed elephant trunk technique.
Methods: Thirty-eight patients underwent first-stage graft repair of the descending thoracic (n = 3) or thoracoabdominal (n = 35) aorta using the reversed elephant trunk technique. Twelve patients (32%) ultimately underwent second-stage aortic arch replacement after a mean interval of 3.9 months (range, 1.6-14 months).
Results: The operative mortality for the initial procedure was 16% (6/38 patients). One patient had a stroke (3%) and 1 patient developed paraparesis (3%). In the interval between the 2 procedures, there were 4 late deaths (4/32; 13%), 1 due to respiratory failure and 3 due to unknown causes. After the 12 completion procedures, there was 1 in-hospital death (8%) and there were no strokes. Five-year survival for the overall group was 51.3 +/- 10.8%.
Conclusions: Surgical treatment of aneurysms involving the entire thoracic aorta remains challenging and is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. The reversed elephant trunk technique facilitates staged repair in patients who require distal aortic replacement during the first operation.