Replacing the atherosclerotic ascending aorta is a high-risk procedure

Robert C. King, R. Chai Kanithanon, Kimberly S. Shockey, William D. Spotnitz, Curtis G. Tribble, Irving L. Kron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background. Improved techniques in cerebral and myocardial protection have made replacement of the chronically aneurysmal ascending thoracic aorta a safe and effective procedure. We hypothesized that patients with severe ascending or aortic arch atherosclerosis were at greater risk for operative complications during ascending aortic replacement because of the diffuse nature of their atherosclerotic process. Methods. We retrospectively analyzed the records of 17 patients who received ascending aortic replacement during elective coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) because of the intraoperative finding of severe atherosclerosis. All 17 patients underwent tube graft replacement of the ascending aorta under hypothermic circulatory arrest and retrograde cerebral perfusion before coronary artery bypass grafting. The outcomes for these patients were compared with those of a control group of 89 consecutive patients who underwent replacement for ascending thoracic aortic aneurysm. Results. The hospital mortality rate for replacement of the ascending thoracic aorta for severe atherosclerosis was 23.5% (4/17) versus 2.25% (2 of 89) for the control group (p = 0.006). The incidence of cerebrovascular accident in the atherosclerotic group was 17.6% (3/17) and 3.37% (3/89) for the control group (p = 0.051). Nine of 17 atherosclerotic patients (52.9%) had operative morbidity. Only 20.2% (18 of 89) of the control patients had nonfatal postoperative complications. Conclusions. The severely atherosclerotic ascending aorta is a marker of diffuse atherosclerosis. Despite improved techniques of myocardial and cerebral protection, we have been unable to duplicate our success with ascending thoracic aneurysm repair. Preoperative screening of the ascending aorta by chest computed tomography may be appropriate in select high-risk patients to determine operability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-400
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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