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Ann Thorac Surg. 2000 Aug;70(2):547-52.

Mediastinal false aneurysm after thoracic aortic surgery.

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Department of Cardiac Surgery, Oxford Heart Centre, The John Radcliffe Hospital, England.



Postoperative mediastinal false aneurysm is associated with a substantial morbidity and mortality. Surgical treatment is mandatory, although the individual approach varies according to the type of pathologic process, infection status, and site of origin of the aneurysm.


Between April 1993 and February 1999, we treated 10 patients, aged 25 to 73 years, with anastomotic mediastinal false aneurysm originating from the proximal thoracic aorta. Nine had undergone prior operations on the ascending aorta (7, type A dissection repair; 1, aortitis; 1, root abscess) with a Dacron conduit (n = 5) or valved conduit (n = 4). The last patient had undergone valve replacement for excavating aortic root sepsis. False aneurysms were detected from 2 to 70 months after the most recent operation. Three patients had positive tissue cultures. The surgical procedure was direct suture repair of the disrupted anastomosis in 5, root or ascending aortic replacement with an aortic homograft in 4, and Dacron graft interposition in 1. Hypothermic low-flow perfusion with or without circulatory arrest was used in all patients.


There was one hospital death caused by staphylococcal mediastinitis. A false aneurysm recurred after direct suture repair in 2 patients with underlying type A dissection or aortitis. This resulted in one late death. One patient experienced a neurologic event during removal of an infected vascular graft. All 8 surviving patients are alive and well after a mean follow-up of 2 years. Three patients with mycotic false aneurysms remain free from infection after aortic homograft replacement.


Mediastinal false aneurysms are surgically taxing. Low-flow hypothermic perfusion with or without circulatory arrest allows safe reentry. Radical surgery provides a satisfactory outcome in infected patients. Local repair of suture dehiscence in pathologic tissues may predispose to recurrence. We suspect that excessive use of formalin in gelatin-resorcin-formol glue may predispose to tissue necrosis.

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