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Acta Chir Belg. 2010 May-Jun;110(3):361-4.

Treatment of symptomatic mobile aortic thrombus.

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  • 1Department of Thoracic and Vascular Surgery, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.



Mobile thoracic or abdominal aortic thrombi are a potential source of embolism to visceral organs or lower limbs. Detection levels of this type of aortic pathology after any embolic event have increased considerably. Nevertheless, therapeutic management of an intraluminal mobile thrombus of the aorta remains controversial. The aim of this study is to describe the treatment modalities for symptomatic mural aortic thrombi based on three cases diagnosed at our institution and to review the literature.


During the last decade, several patients with peripheral embolisation were diagnosed with an intraluminal mobile aortic thrombus. Three patients who were treated differently were selected and reviewed. In addition a literature search was performed on PubMed and Medline from their inception to the present for all English language articles using the following keywords: blue toe syndrome, peripheral arterial embolisation, mobile thrombus and aorta. The advantages and drawbacks of medical management, open and endovascular treatment are described.


Three particular patients with embolisation due to a floating aortic thrombus were reviewed. The first patient underwent a thoracotomy with replacement of the descending thoracic aorta. Another case was treated successfully by implanting an endovascular stent graft in the descending thoracic aorta. The last patient was treated medically because of the involvement of the visceral vessels. When reviewing the literature, no randomised controlled trials were found but several case reports have described both open and endovascular techniques. No long-term follow up of this rare pathology is available.


In the literature there is no consensus how to treat a symptomatic floating aortic thrombus. This report shows that therapeutic strategies are influenced by the localisation of the thrombus, the co-morbidities of the patient and the physician' s preferences. Endovascular treatment in combination with high dose statins has become the preferred treatment method although long-term data are lacking.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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