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Cardiac surgery in patients with a porcelain aorta in the era of transcatheter valve implantation

Valvular Heart Diseases

OBJECTIVES New surgical and perfusion techniques allow the avoidance of deep hypothermia during open aortic arch surgery, which is generally necessary in patients with an unclampable porcelain aorta. The aim of the study was to evaluate operative and long-term results in patients with a porcelain aorta who underwent conventional cardiac surgery using current surgical and perfusion techniques.

METHODS Between November 2003 and February 2012, 30 consecutive patients (mean age 68 ± 11 years, 10 patients had previous cardiac surgery with use of glue in 5 of them) with porcelain aorta diagnosed by computed tomography and defined as a severe circular calcification of the proximal thoracic aorta were referred for cardiac surgery. All patients underwent conventional surgery with arterial cannulation of the innominate (8) or a carotid artery (22) for arterial return. During mild hypothermic circulatory arrest, unilateral cerebral perfusion through the arterial line was performed for cerebral protection. The valve surgery consisted of aortic, mitral or double valve repair in 23, 3 and 4 cases, respectively. Aortic surgery (17 complete root replacements with valve composite grafts and 22 arch replacements) and coronary revascularization due to coronary heart disease (15) were the most frequent concomitant procedures.

RESULTS Thirty-day mortality was 3.3% (1 patient died of bowel ischaemia caused by severe stenosis of the celiac and upper mesenteric arteries) and the rate of permanent neurological deficit was 3.3% as well. Two further patients died during the follow-up at age 91 and 82 years, respectively; however, no death was cardiac or valve related. The actuarial survival at 5 years was 87.3 ± 7.2%. There were no cardiac reoperations, new interventions or aortic- or valve-related events noted during the median follow-up of 45 months (range 0.1–106.0).

CONCLUSIONS Conventional cardiac and aortic surgery offers definitive repair and can be performed safely using current perfusion and operative techniques. Although more invasive, this surgical technique provides mortality and morbidity rates that do not exceed those reported for transcatheter valve implantation. The curative replacement of the pathological proximal aorta, which is one of the most main sources of cerebral embolism, leads to excellent neurological outcome during mid- to long-term follow-up.

Notes to editor

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg (2013) 44 (1): 48-53
The content of this article reflects the personal opinion of the author/s and is not necessarily the official position of the European Society of Cardiology.