Single-stage extensive replacement of the thoracic aorta: the arch-first technique

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1999 Jan;117(1):99-105. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5223(99)70473-3.


Background: Single-stage extensive replacement of the thoracic aorta usually involves a period of circulatory arrest with performance of the graft-to-lower descending thoracic aorta anastomosis before performing the anastomosis to the arch vessels. To minimize the period of brain ischemia and reduce the potential for neurologic injury, we developed an alternative technique.

Methods: In 6 patients with extensive aneurysms involving the entire thoracic aorta, exposure was obtained via a bilateral thoracotomy in the anterior fourth intercostal space with transverse sternotomy. A 10-mm graft was anastomosed to the aortic graft, opposite the site of the planned anastomosis to the arch vessels. During a single period of circulatory arrest (34-46 minutes), the aortic graft was attached to a cuff of aorta containing the arch vessels. The graft was then clamped on either side, and the arch was perfused with cold blood for 20 to 36 minutes. After the distal aortic anastomosis was completed, antegrade perfusion was established via the 10-mm graft. The proximal aortic anastomosis was performed last.

Results: No patient sustained a permanent neurologic deficit. All 6 patients were discharged from the hospital.

Conclusions: The "arch-first" technique, combined with a bilateral transverse thoracotomy, allows expeditious replacement of the thoracic aorta with an acceptable interval of hypothermic circulatory arrest and minimizes the risk of retrograde atheroembolism by establishing antegrade perfusion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / methods
  • Aorta, Thoracic / surgery*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Thoracic / surgery*
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis Implantation / methods*
  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest, Induced
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged