Cerebrospinal dysfunction after endovascular stent-grafting via a median sternotomy: The frozen elephant trunk procedure

Akihiko Usui, Kazuro Fujimoto, Tsuneo Ishiguchi, Masaharu Yoshikawa, Toshiaki Akita, Yuichi Ueda

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76 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Endovascular stent grafting through a median sternotomy for a distal arch aneurysm (the frozen elephant trunk procedure) is an alternative to synthetic graft replacement. But spinal cord dysfunction can easily occur as a complication after surgery. Although its cause is uncertain, some attempts at prevention have been instituted. We address the mechanism of spinal cord dysfunction and evaluate the efficacy of our preventive measures. Methods. There were 22 men and 2 women with an average age of 71 (59 to 83) years. There were 22 true aneurysms (13 fusiform, nine saccular), one chronic dissection, and one penetrating aortic ulcer. The following strategies for prevention of spinal cord dysfunction were utilized: low flow perfusion through both axillary arteries (n = 10); pigtail catheter guidance (n = 19); use of a shorter graft with anchoring sutures (n = 12); flooding of the operative field with carbon dioxide (n = 7); aortic unclamping (n = 7), and use of ultra-thin woven Dacron grafts (n = 15). Results. There was no operative mortality, but cerebrospinal dysfunction complicated four cases (17%): one paraplegia, one stroke along the basilar artery, and two cases of temporary spinal cord dysfunction (paresthesia of the right leg and urinary disturbance). Cerebrospinal dysfunction tended to occur in fusiform aneurysms (31%, p = 0.044). Except when low flow antegrade perfusion through both the axillary arteries was utilized, which resulted in no cases of paraplegia or paraparesis (p = 0.064), the methods used for prevention of cerebrospinal dysfunction appeared to have little efficacy. Conclusions. Cerebrospinal dysfunction is a serious complication of the frozen elephant trunk procedure. Its cause has not been clarified, but it tends to occur in fusiform-type, aneurysms. Antegrade perfusion through both axillary arteries while the aorta is open may be helpful in its prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S1821-S1824
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01-11-2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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