In our experience, ASCP was a safe technique for thoracic aorta surgery allowing complex aortic repairs to be performed with good results in terms of hospital mortality and neurologic outcomes. The fact that there was no difference between the two groups suggests that moderate systemic hypothermia (26 degrees C) appears to be a safe and sufficient tool for brain protection. Moreover, the well known hypothermia-related side effects may be avoided.
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.
In contrast to the conventional elephant trunk technique, the frozen elephant trunk technique offers a potentially curative single-stage procedure for patients with extensive thoracic aortic disease, with encouraging short-term and midterm results.
We compared the results of 2 groups of patients who underwent aortic arch replacement with the frozen elephant trunk technique. In the first group, the distal anastomosis was performed in arch zone 2; in the second control group, the distal anastomosis was performed in arch zone 3.
Between January 2007 and April 2018, the frozen elephant trunk technique was used in 282 patients. The median age was 62 years (range 18–83 years), and 233 patients were men (82.6%). Two different frozen elephant trunk prostheses were used: the Jotec E-vita open prosthesis in 167 patients (59.2%) and the Vascutek Thoraflex hybrid prosthesis in 115 patients (40.8%). Patients were divided into 2 groups according to the distal anastomosis site: zone 2 group (69 patients) and zone 3 group (213 patients). The main indications were chronic aortic dissection (n = 164, 58.2%), degenerative aneurysm (n = 72, 25.5%) and acute aortic dissections (n = 45, 16%).
The overall in-hospital mortality rate was 17%: 20% for the zone 2 group and 16% for the zone 3 group, without significant differences, also in terms of cardiopulmonary bypass and myocardial ischaemia times. However, the visceral ischaemia time was significantly shorter for the zone 2 group, whereas the antegrade selective cerebral perfusion time was significantly longer for the same group. Recurrent laryngeal nerve injury rate was lower in the zone 2 group. The overall postoperative paraplegia rate was 3.5%, whereas the occurrence of permanent neurological dysfunction and dialysis was 9% and 19%, respectively, with no significant differences between the groups.
‘Proximalization’ of the distal anastomosis can be used for arch reconstruction, especially in complex cases such as reoperations or acute aortic dissections. Furthermore, with the aid of branched hybrid grafts, a reduction of the visceral ischaemia time is achieved.
Improvement of patient outcome with traumatic rupture of the thoracic aorta can be achieved by delaying surgical repair until after management of major associated injuries if there are no signs of impending rupture. Endovascular treatment is feasible and safe and may represent a valid alternative to open surgery in selected cases.
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