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Am J Surg. 1998 Aug;176(2):193-7.

Acute occlusion of the abdominal aorta.

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Joseph B. Whitehead Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



Acute aortic occlusion most commonly results from aortic saddle embolus or thrombosis of an atherosclerotic abdominal aorta. The purpose of this study was to review the experience at a university hospital to better define the diagnosis and management of this uncommon process.


A retrospective chart review was performed from patients admitted to Emory University Hospital with acute occlusion of the abdominal aorta from 1985 through 1997.


Thirty-three patients were identified. In group EMB (n = 16), occlusion was due to saddle embolus. In group IST (n = 17), occlusion was attributed to in situ thrombosis of a severely diseased aorta. Operative procedures performed included transfemoral embolectomy (15), aorto-bifemoral bypass (9), axillobifemoral bypass (5), fasciotomy (3), and thrombolysis (1). The in-hospital mortality rate was 21% (31% EMB, 12% IST), and morbidity was significant and included mesenteric ischemia (6%), bleeding complications (9%), subsequent amputation (12%), renal failure (15%), recurrent embolization or thrombosis (21%), and cardiac complications (42%).


Acute aortic occlusion has tremendous morbidity and mortality even with optimal surgical care.

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