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J Vasc Surg. 2004 Apr;39(4):788-91.

Feasibility of preoperative computer tomography in patients with ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm: a time-to-death study in patients without operation.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Leicester Royal Infirmary, England.



Despite advances in surgery, anaesthesia, and critical care, mortality from ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) has not decreased over the last 20 years. Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) of ruptured AAAs is an alternative to open repair, which may improve outcome. However, a computed tomography (CT) scan is usually required to assess the anatomic suitability of the aneurysm for EVAR. This may result in delay in transferring patients to the operating room. We evaluated all patients admitted to hospital with a ruptured AAA who died without undergoing surgery, to determine time to death after AAA rupture and thus the potential time available for obtaining a CT scan.


A retrospective case note review was conducted of 56 patients admitted to a single center with ruptured AAAs who did not undergo surgery because of advanced age or associated comorbidity over 8 years from 1995 to 2003. Statistical analysis was performed with the Fisher exact test.


The 56 patients (33 men, 59%; 23 women, 41%) had a median age of 85 years (range, 71-98 years). Reasons for no operation being performed were shock (9%), cardiac arrest (11%), quality of life (29%), malignancy (7%), cardiac disease (15%), respiratory disease (16%) and age (14%). Median systolic blood pressure at admission was 110 mm Hg, heart rate was 88 beats per minute, and hemoglobin concentration was 10.5 g/dL. Patients were not aggressively resuscitated once a decision was made to not perform surgery. Death within 2 hours of hospital admission occurred in 7 (12.5%) patients, and 49 (87.5%) patients died more than 2 hours after admission. Median interval between onset of symptoms and admission to hospital was 2 hours 30 minutes (range, 44 minutes-36 hours), and the median interval between admission and death was 10 hours 45 minutes (range, 1 hour 1 minute-143 hours 55 minutes). The median total time to death from onset of symptoms was 16 hours 38 minutes (range, 2 hours 6 minutes-146 hours 50 minutes).


Most (87.5%) patients admitted to hospital with a ruptured AAA died after more than 2 hours. These data show that most patients with a ruptured AAA who reach the hospital alive are sufficiently stable to undergo CT and consideration of EVAR.

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