J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2019 Nov 11. Epub 2019 Nov 11.
Aortic Institute at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn. Electronic address:
Objectives: Elucidating critical aortic diameters at which natural complications (rupture, dissection, and death) occur is of paramount importance to guide timely surgical intervention. Natural history knowledge for descending thoracic and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms is sparse. Our small early studies recommended repairing descending thoracic and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms before a critical diameter of 7.0 cm. We focus exclusively on a large number of descending thoracic and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms followed over time, enabling a more detailed analysis with greater granularity across aortic sizes.
Methods: Aortic diameters and long-term complications of 907 patients with descending thoracic and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms were reviewed. Growth rates (instrumental variables approach), yearly complication rates, 5-year event-free survival (Kaplan-Meier), and risk of complications as a function of aortic height index (aortic diameter [centimeters]/height [meters]) (competing-risks regression) were calculated.
Results: Estimated mean growth rate of descending thoracic and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms was 0.19 cm/year, increasing with increasing aortic size. Median size at acute type B dissection was 4.1 cm. Some 80% of dissections occurred below 5 cm, whereas 93% of ruptures occurred above 5 cm. Descending thoracic and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm diameter 6 cm or greater was associated with a 19% yearly rate of rupture, dissection, or death. Five-year complication-free survival progressively decreased with increasing aortic height index. Hazard of complications showed a 6-fold increase at an aortic height index of 4.2 or greater compared with an aortic height index of 3.0 to 3.5 (P < .05). The probability of fatal complications (aortic rupture or death) increased sharply at 2 hinge points: 6.0 and 6.5 cm.
Conclusions: Acute type B dissections occur frequently at small aortic sizes; thus, prophylactic size-based surgery may not afford a means for dissection protection. However, fatal complications increase dramatically at 6.0 cm, suggesting that preemptive intervention before that criterion can save lives.