Article Abstract

Complications of endovascular aneurysm repair of the thoracic and abdominal aorta: evaluation and management

Authors: Dania Daye, T. Gregory Walker


Abstract: In recent decades, endovascular aneurysm repair or endovascular aortic repair (EVAR) has become an acceptable alternative to open surgery for the treatment of thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysms and other aortic pathologies such as the acute aortic syndromes (e.g., penetrating aortic ulcer, intramural hematoma, dissection). Available data suggest that endovascular repair is associated with lower perioperative 30-day all-cause mortality as well as a significant reduction in perioperative morbidity when compared to open surgery. Additionally, EVAR leads to decreased blood loss, eliminates the need for crossclamping the aorta and has shorter recovery periods than traditional surgery. It is currently the preferred mode of treatment of thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysms in a subset of patients who meet certain anatomic criteria conducive to endovascular repair. The main disadvantage of EVAR procedures is the high rate of post-procedural complications that often require secondary re-intervention. As a result, most authorities recommend lifelong imaging surveillance following repair. Available surveillance modalities include conventional radiography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance angiography, ultrasonography, nuclear imaging and conventional angiography, with computed tomography currently considered to be the gold standard for surveillance by most experts. Following endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair, the rate of complications is estimated to range between 16% and 30%. The complication rate is higher following thoracic EVAR (TEVAR) and is estimated to be as high as 38%. Common complications include both those related to the endograft device and systemic complications. Device-related complications include endoleaks, endograft migration or collapse, kinking and/or stenosis of an endograft limb and graft infection. Post-procedural systemic complications include end-organ ischemia, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular events and post-implantation syndrome. Secondary re-interventions are required in approximately 19% to 24% of cases following endovascular abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurysm repair respectively. Typically, most secondary reinterventions involve the use of percutaneous techniques such as placement of cuff extension devices, additional endograft components or stents, enhancement of endograft fixation, treatment of certain endoleaks using various embolization techniques and embolic agents and thrombolysis of occluded endograft components. Less commonly, surgical conversion and/or open surgical modification are required. In this article, we provide an overview of the most common complications that may occur following endovascular repair of thoracic and AAAs. We also summarize the current surveillance recommendations for detecting and evaluating these complications and discuss various current secondary reintervention approaches that may typically be employed for treatment.