Cerebral circulation during urgent repair of acute type A aortic dissection has traditionally been managed with cardiopulmonary bypass and aortic cross clamping proximal to the innominate artery or by the use of hypothermic circulatory arrest (HCA). The more recently introduced retrograde cerebral perfusion (RCP) may confer additional cerebral protection during elective aortic arch reconstruction. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the efficacy of RCP in the urgent repair of acute type A aortic dissection.We evaluated 60 consecutive patients who underwent repair of acute type A aortic dissection over a 6-year period. Patients were grouped according to intraoperative circulatory management strategies. Group 1 consisted of 41 patients operated on early in the series who were managed by cardiopulmonary bypass and standard aortic cross clamping (n = 21) with conversion to HCA (n = 20) if the intimal tear extended into the aortic arch. Since 1993, 19 patients, who make up group 2, were managed with routine open distal anastomosis and HCA with RCP. Data were analyzed for clinically evident, radiographically confirmed cerebrovascular accidents and 60-day mortality and evaluated by chi 2 analysis. Stroke and mortality rates of patients managed with either cardiopulmonary bypass or HCA were 26.3% and 29.3%, respectively. Patients undergoing RCP experienced statistically significant reductions in rates of confirmed cerebrovascular accidents (0%, P = .015) and mortality (5.3%, P = .04).We conclude that the introduction of circulatory management using RCP with HCA during urgent operative repair of acute type A aortic dissection has significantly improved both stroke and mortality rates.
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