Axillary artery cannulation in surgery for acute or subacute ascending aortic dissections

Ann Thorac Surg. 2010 Sep;90(3):731-7. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2010.04.059.


Background: Perfusion through the right axillary artery is an alternative to aortic or femoral artery cannulation during surgery for ascending aortic dissections. The results of this strategy, particularly beyond the immediate postoperative period, are not well described.

Methods: Eighty-three patients (median age, 58 years) with acute or subacute ascending aortic dissection underwent surgical repair with right axillary artery perfusion through an interposition Dacron graft. Sixty-five patients (78%) had DeBakey type I dissections. Procedures performed concomitantly with ascending aortic replacement included root replacement (n = 16; 19%), aortic valve repair or replacement (n = 51; 61%), and coronary artery bypass grafting (n = 13; 16%). Hypothermic circulatory arrest with antegrade cerebral perfusion was used in the majority of patients (n = 60; 72%). We retrospectively studied short-term and midterm outcomes, including survival and complications relating to the axillary cannulation.

Results: No patient incurred intraoperative axillary artery injuries or had arm ischemia. Fourteen patients (17%) died in the hospital or within 30 days of surgery, and 9 patients (11%) had strokes. Actuarial survival was 73% +/- 5% at 1 year and 64% +/- 6% at 3 years. Forty-six of the 57 surviving patients could be contacted by telephone; they reported few late complications related to the axillary artery cannulation site. These complications included 1 case each of right-arm weakness and right-arm numbness.

Conclusions: Surgical repair of acute aortic dissection with right axillary artery perfusion can be performed safely, with a relatively low risk of stroke and a high probability of midterm survival.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aortic Diseases / surgery*
  • Axillary Artery*
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis
  • Catheterization
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures / methods