SummaryTreating complex aortic arch disease with proximal and distal aortic segment involvement is challenging. In recent years, different surgical and endovascular techniques have been applied in a single or multiple-stage approach with the aim to cure and simplify these conditions. The first procedure available for this purpose was the conventional elephant trunk technique. Its recent evolution is the frozen elephant trunk, which treats the descending thoracic aorta using the antegrade release of a self-expandable stent graft. In the following review article, we analyse the advantages and drawbacks of both techniques from clinical and practical perspectives.
The FET technique is a promising approach in patients with acute dissection. Solid long-term data are warranted to validate the assumed short- and long-term benefits, but we believe that thoughtful patient selection criteria remain crucial.
In elective cases, open TAAA repair has to be considered an effective option associated with low necessity of reoperation at follow-up. The extent of aortic resection did not affect long-term mortality. Conversely, survival was mainly determined by patient age and preoperative condition.
PPM relocation in conjunction to mitral annuloplasty is an easy and safe method and can be performed without an increase in-hospital mortality. This technique reduced the tenting area and coaptation depth compared with isolated RA, leading to improvement in the incidence of recurrent MR. The PPM group of patients experienced fewer cardiac-related events.
Several studies have shown that after DeBakey type 1 acute aortic dissection (DB1-AAD) surgery, 70% of the surviving patients still present with a dissected distal aorta that can eventually dilate, rupture, lead to distal malperfusion or require secondary extensive interventions. In order to minimize these complications, different surgeons have advocated total thoracic aorta remodelling procedures during primary aortic repair to promote false-lumen obliteration and distal thrombosis. Such management, which includes arch replacement and antegrade stenting of the dissected descending thoracic aorta (DTA), remains controversial due to its perceived increased operative mortality. Furthermore, the desired long-term benefits remain to be confirmed. The present article aimed to evaluate results of antegrade stenting of DTA during surgery for DB1-AAD, focusing on in-hospital mortality and morbidity, and long-term survival, occurrence of distal aortic remodelling and freedom from aortic reinterventions. Early results from the identified studies suggested that hybrid repair of DB1-AAD with antegrade DTA stenting was associated with satisfactory in-hospital mortality (10.0%) and stroke (4.8%) rates, while the risk of spinal cord injury appeared to be higher (4.3%) than that reported from historical controls. Furthermore, antegrade stenting of DTA was associated with promising rates of partial/complete thrombosis of the peristent DTA false lumen (88.9%), suggesting that aortic remodelling is highly probable with this approach. Evidence on long-term results after proximal acute dissection repair is still sparse, and mostly jeopardized by limited data beyond 5 years. Further investigations with longer term follow-up and with specifically designed protocols to assess long-term clinical outcomes (late aortic mortality and freedom from distal aortic reinterventions) of total thoracic aortic remodelling procedures vs more conservative management are warranted to reach more definitive conclusions.
In patients with ischemic mitral regurgitation, papillary muscle relocation plus nonrestrictive mitral annuloplasty promotes a significant reversal in left ventricular remodeling, with a considerable decrease in tenting area and coaptation depth. Our approach is a durable method to reduce the recurrence of mitral insufficiency.
Complex lesions of the thoracic aorta are traditionally treated in 2 surgical steps with the elephant trunk technique. A relatively new approach is the frozen elephant trunk (FET) technique, which potentially allows combined lesions of the thoracic aorta to be treated in a 1-stage procedure combining endovascular treatment with conventional surgery using a hybrid prosthesis. These are very complex and time-consuming operations, and good results can be obtained only if appropriate strategies for myocardial, cerebral, and visceral protection are adopted. However, the FET technique is associated with a non-negligible incidence of spinal cord injury, due to the extensive coverage of the descending aorta with the excessive sacrifice of intercostal arteries. The indications for the FET technique include chronic thoracic aortic dissection, acute or chronic type B dissection when endovascular treatment is contraindicated, chronic aneurysm of the thoracic aorta, and chronic aneurysm of the distal arch. The FET technique is also indicated in acute type A aortic dissection, especially when the tear is localized in the aortic arch; in cases of distal malperfusion; and in young patients. In light of the great interest in the FET technique, the Vascular Domain of the European Association for cardio-thoracic Surgery published a position paper reporting the current knowledge and the state of the art of the FET technique. Herein, we describe the surgical techniques involved in the FET technique and we report our experience with the FET technique for the treatment of complex aortic disease of the thoracic aorta.
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