Thoracic aorta endografts: variations in practice among medical specialists

Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. 2006 Dec;68(6):843-52. doi: 10.1002/ccd.20857.


Background: Endovascular stent-graft placement is emerging as a novel treatment option for patients with diseases of the descending thoracic aorta. However, currently no consensus guidelines exist to direct uniformity in stent-graft procedures as well as for pre- and postprocedural patient management, unlike that for the management of other cardiovascular disorder. Accordingly, the aim of the present survey was to assess variations in thoracic aortic stent-graft practice among different subspecialties in Germany.

Methods: An interdisciplinary questionnaire survey was conducted among 206 departments of vascular surgery, radiology, cardiology, and cardiothoracic surgery in Germany that actively performed aortic stent-graft placement. Data on preoperative procedure planning, logistics, practical/technical issues of stent-graft placement, and postoperative patient management were evaluated using a standardized, self-administered questionnaire comprising 29 items. Responses were tabulated for analysis.

Results: Of a total of 206 questionnaires, 184 (89.3%) were returned with 71 (38.5%) centers reporting to have performed thoracic aortic stent-graft placement (total number of procedures 2,267) through 1997 and 2003. The average number of stent-graft procedures per year was 7.4 (25-75% percentile, 2.05-10.75) at participating sites, with 49% of the respondents reporting <5 procedures per year. Treatment of thoracic aortic aneurysms was the predominant indication for stent-graft placement, followed by type B-dissection. As anticipated, marked variability existed among the different medical specialties performing stent-graft procedures with respect to all aspects of the procedures including indication for treatment, choice of preoperative and intraoperative imaging modalities, technical equipment and perioperative management. The only consistent agreement was on the need for lifelong follow-up after stent-graft placement, with CT being the preferred imaging technique (90% of centers).

Conclusion: The present survey documents an increasing adoption of endovascular stent-graft placement for patients with diseases of the descending thoracic aorta in Germany. Despite this, there is a lack of consensus among the different medical specialties performing stent-graft placement with respect to indications and technical execution of stent-grafting. Our data supports the need for consensus practice guidelines endorsed by medical professional societies for stent-graft procedure to standardize the growing number of thoracic stent graft procedures.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angioplasty / methods*
  • Aorta, Thoracic / diagnostic imaging
  • Aorta, Thoracic / surgery*
  • Aortic Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging
  • Aortic Aneurysm / surgery*
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis Implantation / methods*
  • Cardiology
  • Germany
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Radiography
  • Radiology, Interventional
  • Stents / statistics & numerical data*
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Workforce