Impact of Aortic Atherosclerosis Burden on Outcomes of Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement

Ann Thorac Surg. 2020 Feb;109(2):465-471. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2019.06.037. Epub 2019 Aug 7.


Background: Epiaortic ultrasound detects and localizes ascending aortic atherosclerosis. In this analysis we investigated the association between epiaortic ultrasound-based atheroma grade during surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) and perioperative adverse outcomes.

Methods: SAVR patients in a randomized trial of 2 embolic protection devices underwent a protocol-defined 5-view epiaortic ultrasound read at a core laboratory. Aortic atherosclerosis was quantified with the Katz atheroma grade, and patients were categorized as mild (grade I-II) or moderate/severe (grade III-V). Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate associations between atheroma grade and adverse outcomes, including death, clinically apparent stroke, cerebral infarction on diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, delirium, and acute kidney injury (AKI) by 7 and 30 days.

Results: Precannulation epiaortic ultrasound data were available for 326 of 383 randomized patients (85.1%). Of these, 106 (32.5%) had moderate/severe Katz atheroma grade at any segment of the ascending aorta. Although differences in the composite of death, stroke, or cerebral infarction on diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging by 7 days were not statistically significant, moderate/severe atheroma grade was associated with a greater risk of AKI by 7 days (adjusted odds ratio, 2.63; 95% confidence interval, 1.24-5.58; P = .01). At 30 days, patients with moderate/severe atheroma grade had a greater risk of death, stroke, or AKI (adjusted odds ratio, 1.97; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-3.71; P = .04).

Conclusions: Moderate/severe aortic atherosclerosis was associated with an increased risk of adverse events after SAVR. Epiaortic ultrasound may serve as a useful adjunct for identifying patients who may benefit from strategies to reduce atheroembolic complications during SAVR.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aorta
  • Aortic Diseases / complications*
  • Aortic Valve / surgery*
  • Atherosclerosis / complications*
  • Female
  • Heart Valve Diseases / complications*
  • Heart Valve Diseases / surgery*
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis Implantation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome