Conventional repair of aneurysms of the descending thoracic aorta entails thoracotomy and graft interposition. For elderly patients and those with previous operations, obesity, respiratory insufficiency, or other comorbidities, such a procedure entails significant mortality and morbidity. Transluminal stent-graft placement offers an alternative approach with potentially less morbidity and quicker recovery; however, the effectiveness and durability of stent-grafts remain uncertain. Methods: Since July 1992, thoracic aortic stent-grafts have been placed in 44 patients with a variety of pathologic conditions. Each graft was individually constructed from self- expanding, stainless-steel Z stents covered with a woven Dacron polyester fabric graft. Graft dimensions were determined from spiral computed tomographic scans. All implants were performed in the operating theater under fluoroscopic and transesophageal echocardiographic guidance. Follow-up was by computed tomography and contrast angiography in all cases. Patient data: There were 36 men and 8 women. Mean age was 66 years (range 35 to 88 years). Mean aneurysmal diameter was 6.3 cm (range 4.0 to 9.4 cm). Etiologies included 23 degenerative aneurysms, four posttraumatic aneurysms, four pseudoaneurysms, and one chronic aortic dissection. Results: There were three early deaths (<30 days) and two late deaths. One early death resulted from graft failure. There were two instances of paraparesis or paraplegia, with one associated early death. A single stent was deployed in 27 patients, two stents were required in 14 patients, and three stents were required in three patients. In 23 patients, vascular access was attained through the femoral artery; abdominal aortic access, either native or graft, was necessary in the remaining 21 patients. Twelve grafts were placed in conjunction with open abdominal aortic surgical procedures. Mean follow-up (98% complete) was 12.6 months (range 1 to 34 months). One late death occurred from aneurysmal expansion and rupture in a patient with a persistent midgraft leak. The second late death may have resulted from aneurysmal rupture. Immediate thrombosis was achieved in 36 patients, and late thrombosis was achieved in three others. Failure to achieve complete aneurysmal thrombosis occurred in five patients, however, and one individual (previously noted) died of aneurysmal expansion and rupture; the remaining four are being carefully monitored. Only one patient has required conversion of the stent to an open procedure; a contained rupture of the false lumen of a chronic dissection eventually necessitated total descending thoracic aortic exclusion. Conclusions: These early results support the hypothesis that endovascular stent-graft placement may be a safe and durable treatment for selected patients with aneurysmal disease of the descending thoracic aorta. Large introducer size (26F outer diameter) and relatively limited angulation capability, as well as imprecise deployment techniques, currently limit its applicability. Distal embolization and stent migration have not been observed. Failure to achieve complete aneurysmal thrombosis may allow continued aneurysmal expansion and rupture. Further follow-up is clearly necessary to evaluate the true long-term effectiveness of this procedure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine