Delayed paraplegia after thoracic and thoracoabdominal aneurysm repair: A continuing risk

Hersh S. Maniar, Thoralf M. Sundt, Sunil M. Prasad, Celeste M. Chu, Cynthia J. Camillo, Marc R. Moon, Brian G. Rubin, Gregorio A. Sicard, Joseph S. Coselli, Nicholas T. Kouchoukos

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76 Scopus citations


Background. Paraplegia or paraparesis after otherwise successful thoracic or thoracoabdominal aortic reconstruction is a devastating complication for patient and physician. Interventions for its prevention have focused primarily on the intraoperative period. We have recently noted a significant incidence of delayed-onset neurologic deficit. Methods. We reviewed our most recent 5-year experience with thoracic and thoracoabdominal reconstruction to examine the incidence of and potential contributors to delayed paraplegia or paraparesis. Results. Between June 1996 and June 2001, 60 patients (29 men, 31 women) underwent repair of isolated thoracic (n = 26) or thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (Crawford I, n = 7; Crawford II, n = 14; Crawford III, n = 12; Crawford IV, n = 1) by the cardiac and vascular surgical services collaboratively. Repair was performed endovascularly in 6, and open with either circulatory arrest in 12, partial left heart bypass in 37, or partial femorofemoral bypass in 5. Operative mortality was 9.3% (5 of 54 patients) for open repair and 0% for endovascular repair. Paraplegia or paraparesis occurred in 6 (10%) patients of which 83.3% (5 of 6) were delayed in onset. All patients with delayed paraplegia or paraparesis had degenerative aneurysms of Crawford extent II (n = 3) or III (n = 2), had intraoperative left heart bypass, and had perioperative spinal drainage. Delayed paraplegia or paraparesis occurred up to 27 days postoperatively, and was associated with a documented episode of hypotension in 60% (3 of 5) of patients. Conclusions. Improvements in intraoperative management may have reduced immediate paraplegia or paraparesis among vulnerable patients only to leave them at risk of delayed-onset deficit. Postoperative care, including assiduous attention to avoidance of even transient hypotension, must be tailored to this patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-120
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


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