Background: Extensive thoracic aortic aneurysms that involve the ascending, arch, and descending segments require challenging repairs associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. The purpose of this report is to evaluate contemporary outcomes after surgical repair of extensive thoracic aortic aneurysms using a two-stage approach with the elephant trunk technique.
Methods: During a 15 1/2-year period, 148 consecutive patients underwent total aortic arch replacement using the elephant trunk technique. Seventy-six of these patients (51%, 76/148) returned for second-stage repair of the descending thoracic or thoracoabdominal aorta 4.9 +/- 7.5 months after the first stage.
Results: Operative mortality after the proximal aortic stage was 12% (18/148). Seven patients (5%) had strokes. Among the patients who subsequently underwent distal aortic repair, operative mortality was 4% (3/76). Two patients (3%) developed paraplegia. Long-term survival after completing the second stage of repair was 70 +/- 6% at 5 years and 59 +/- 7% at 8 years.
Conclusions: Contemporary management of extensive thoracic aortic aneurysms using the two-stage elephant trunk technique yields acceptable short-term and long-term outcomes. This technique remains an important component of the surgical armamentarium.