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July 1993

Partial Left Heart Bypass for Thoracic Aorta Repair: Survival Without Paraplegia

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery, Denver General Hospital and University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Arch Surg. 1993;128(7):746-752. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1993.01420190036005

Objective:  Emergency repair of the torn descending thoracic aorta has been associated with an almost 15% incidence of paraplegia. The literature to date suggests that the incidence of paraplegia is not influenced by mechanical adjuncts to enhance distal aortic perfusion during cross-clamping and therefore, "clamp and sew" has been considered an acceptable technique. The purpose of the present study was to review our experience with repair of descending thoracic aortas using partial left heart bypass and to compare this favorable initial experience with the available data on the use of the heparinless centrifugal pump.

Design:  A retrospective review of the routine use of partial left heart bypass in 16 consecutive patients with descending thoracic aorta disruptions. Results were compared with similar reports in the recent literature on trauma.

Setting:  A level 1 trauma facility in the Denver, Colo, metropolitan area.

Patients:  All patients with multisystem blunt trauma with a mean injury severity score of 36.

Intervention:  Repair of the descending thoracic aorta disruption using partial left heart bypass with a heparinless centrifugal pump.

Main Outcome Measures:  Primary outcome measures were survival and paraplegia; other monitored variables included proximal and distal aortic pressure, flow rates, and oxygen transport.

Results:  Among the 14 survivors (88%) there were no cases of paraplegia, and intraoperative hemodynamics and oxygen transport were well maintained with partial left heart bypass. This experience is added to the available reported data on the use of the centrifugal pump. In these additional 42 patients, the mortality rate was 7%, with no incidence of paraplegia.

Conclusions:  This collective experience failed to disclose a single case of paraplegia when partial left heart bypass was employed for repair of descending thoracic aorta. Moreover, the use of partial left heart bypass in this cohort of critically injured patients is associated with survival and perioperative morbidity rates comparable with the best recent reports of emergency thoracic aortic repair.(Arch Surg. 1993;128:746-752)

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