Objective: Endoluminal grafting is emerging as a less invasive alternative to the treatment of descending thoracic aorta diseases. Endoleaks (continued pressurization of the treated aorta external to the endoluminal graft) are a potential complication. We reviewed our cumulative endovascular experience for descending thoracic aorta pathologies with respect to the management of endoleaks and associated patient outcomes.
Methods: As part of a single-site investigational device-exemption protocol, 249 patients (146 men, 103 women) with thoracic aortic diseases underwent attempted delivery of a TAG endoprosthesis (W. L. Gore & Associates, Flagstaff, Ariz) between February 2000 and August 2005. Indications for study enrollment included 111 atherosclerotic aneurysms (44.6%), 67 aortic dissections (26.9%), 27 penetrating aortic ulcers (10.8%), 14 contained ruptures (5.6%), 11 pseudoaneurysms (4.4%), 9 acute aortic transections (3.6%), 7 aortobronchial fistulas (2.8%), 2 endoleaks (0.8%) after prior thoracic endoluminal grafting, and 1 (0.4%) adult coarctation. Endoleak surveillance was performed using serial computed tomography scans.
Results: Mean patient age was 68 years (range, 23-91 years). Endoleak developed in 38 patients (15.3%): 15 distal type I (39.5%), 13 proximal type I (34.2%), 8 type II (21.1%) and 2 type III (5.3%). No surgical intervention was performed in 26 patients (68.4%), in which the endoleak spontaneously resolved in 14 (53.8%), 8 (30.8%) are being monitored and are asymptomatic, 3 (11.5%) died of unrelated causes, 2 (7.7%) withdrew from the study, and 1 (3.8%) was lost to follow-up. Twelve patients (31.6%) required reintervention using an additional endoluminal graft: 8 (66.7%) with a proximal type I endoleak, 2 (16.7%) with a distal type I endoleak, 1 (8.3%) with both distal type I and type III endoleaks, and 1 (8.3%) with a type III endoleak. Open conversions were necessary secondary to device deployment difficulties in two patients (0.8%), and due to expansion of a thoracoabdominal aneurysm and rupture of an aneurysm secondary to a type II endoleak in one patient (0.5%) each.
Conclusion: Endoleaks are an infrequent, yet important, complication after thoracic endografting. Many endoleaks will resolve spontaneously, but some patients may require another endovascular intervention. Close surveillance is recommended for these patients; however, open conversion is rarely indicated. Because more diseases of the thoracic aorta are being treated using an endovascular approach, a standardized treatment algorithm is essential to safely and effectively manage associated endoleaks.