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J Vasc Surg. 2008 Oct;48(4):836-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2008.05.073. Epub 2008 Aug 23.

Strategies to improve spinal cord ischemia in endovascular thoracic aortic repair: Outcomes of a prospective cerebrospinal fluid drainage protocol.

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The Vascular Group and Albany Medical Center Hospital, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY, USA.



Although endovascular repair of thoracic aortic aneurysm has been shown to reduce the morbidity and mortality rates, spinal cord ischemia remains a persistent problem. We evaluated our experience with spinal cord protective measures using a standardized cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage protocol in patients undergoing endovascular thoracic aortic repair.


From 2004 to 2006, 121 patients underwent elective (n = 52, 43%) and emergent (n = 69, 57%) endovascular thoracic aortic stent graft placement for thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) (n = 94, 78%), symptomatic penetrating ulceration (n = 11, 9%), pseudoaneurysms (n = 5, 4%) and traumatic aortic transactions (n = 11, 9%). In 2005, routine use of a CSF drainage protocol was established to minimize the risks of spinal cord ischemia. The CSF was actively drained to maintain pressures <15 mm Hg and the mean arterial blood pressures were maintained at >/=90 mm Hg. Data was prospectively collected in our vascular registry for elective and emergent endovascular thoracic aortic repair and the patients were divided into 2 groups (+CSF drainage protocol, -CSF drainage protocol). A chi(2) statistical analysis was performed and significance was assumed for P < .05.


Of the 121 patients with thoracic stent graft placement, the mean age was 72 years, 62 (51%) were male, and 56 (46%) underwent preoperative placement of a CSF drain, while 65 (54%) did not. Both groups had similar comorbidities of coronary artery disease (24 [43%] vs 27 [41%]), hypertension (44 [79%] vs 50 [77%]), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (18 [32%] vs 22 [34%]), and chronic renal insufficiency (10 [17%] vs 12 [18%]). None of the patients with CSF drainage developed spinal cord ischemia (SCI), and 5 (8%) of the patients without CSF drainage developed SCI within 24 hours of endovascular repair (P< .05). All patients with clinical symptoms of SCI had CSF drain placement and augmentation of systemic blood pressures to >/=90 mm Hg, and 60% (3 of 5 patients) demonstrated marked clinical improvement.


Perioperative CSF drainage with augmentation of systemic blood pressures may have a beneficial role in reducing the risk of paraplegia in patients undergoing endovascular thoracic aortic stent graft placement. However, selective CSF drainage may offer the same benefit as mandatory drainage.

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