Changing profiles of diagnostic and treatment options in subclavian artery aneurysms

Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2010 Jul;40(1):27-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2010.03.011. Epub 2010 Apr 15.


Background: Subclavian artery aneurysms (SAAs) are rare and may cause life- and limb-threatening complications. Therapeutic options greatly differ as do access alternatives. The aim of the study was to assess its clinical presentation, diagnostics and therapeutic options as reported in the literature.

Method: A literature search was performed of the Medline, Cochrane and EMBASE databases. All articles, published until September 2009, describing treatment of an SAA were included.

Results: A total of 191 reports, of which 126 met the inclusion criteria, were identified and were published from June 1915 until September 2009. Of these, 394 SAAs were described in 381 patients, with a mean age of 52+/-16 years. The median diameter was 40 mm (range: 10-180 mm). The aetiology appeared to change in time towards more exogenous causes. Fifty-one percent of the SAAs presented with a pulsating mass, shoulder pain and/or non-specific chest pain. Embolisation, rupture and thrombosis were present in 16%, 9% and 6% of patients, respectively, and their incidence was related to the anatomical localisation of the SAA. Open surgery and endovascular repair had a complication rate of 26% and 28%, respectively (p=0.49). Cardiopulmonary complications were restricted to open repair. Mortality rates for open and endovascular techniques were similar (5%). The mortality rates for conventional elective and emergency procedures were 3% and 13%, respectively, and for endovascular repair 4% and 8%, respectively.

Conclusion: The profiles of diagnostic and treatment options of SAAs are changing. Although guidelines considering timing of intervention may not be conducted from available literature, intervention appears to be indicated, especially in distal SAAs, due to the risk of thrombo-embolic complications. Endovascular repair and hybrid procedures appear to be the preferred treatment modalities, due to a lower rate of cardiopulmonary complications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aneurysm / diagnosis*
  • Aneurysm / etiology
  • Aneurysm / mortality
  • Aneurysm / surgery*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Patient Selection
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Subclavian Artery / pathology*
  • Subclavian Artery / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures* / mortality