Surgical treatment of ascending aortic aneurysms in patients with giant cell aortitis

Kenton J. Zehr, Alok Mathur, Thomas A. Orszulak, Charles J. Mullany, Hartzell V. Schaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


Background. Giant cell aortitis is a rare cause of ascending aortic aneurysm disease despite giant cell arteritis being a common cause of vasculitis. We evaluated an 8-year experience with surgical repair with regard to preoperative variables, extent of disease, required surgical procedures, and the propensity to develop additional great vessel aneurysms. Methods. Thirty-seven patients (29 female, 8 male; aged 69.6 ± 9.5 years) were operated on from 1995 to 2002. Ten (27%) patients had a history of steroid treatment for temporal arteritis or polymyalgia rheumatica 8.9 ± 3.9 years before. Nineteen (51%) patients had +3 or +4 aortic regurgitation. Maximal aneurysm size was 6.1 ± 0.8 cm. Thirty (81%) patients underwent polyethylene terephthalate fiber (Dacron) tube graft replacement of the ascending aorta, 4 (11%) had a modified Bentall procedure, 2 (5%) had a valve-sparing aortic root reconstruction, and 1 (3%) had aortorrhaphy. Twenty-two (59%) patients required 22 ± 9 minutes of hypothermic circulatory arrest for hemiarch or complete aortic arch replacement. Twenty-six (70%) patients had concomitant cardiac procedures. Results. There was no early mortality. Morbidity was reexploration for bleeding in 3 (8%) patients, stroke in 3 (8%), left vocal cord paralysis in 2 (5%), renal failure in 2 (5%), and gastrointestinal bleeding in 1 (3%). Mean follow-up was 2.8 ± 2.3 years. Four-year actuarial survival was 74% (95% confidence interval, 57% to 94%). Other descending or abdominal aortic or great vessel aneurysms occurred in 17 (46%) patients. Four patients had prior aneurysm surgery, 8 are monitored with aneurysms, and 5 underwent repair of an aneurysm in the follow-up period. Of 8 late deaths, 3 were caused by complications of a descending thoracic aneurysm. No patient required replacement of a native aortic valve that was preserved during the initial operative procedure. Conclusions. Ascending aortic aneurysms caused by giant cell aortitis can involve the aorta from the aortic root through the aortic arch, thus requiring a tailored operative approach. The aortic valve tissue is spared from the pathologic process. Other aneurysms of the aorta and great vessels occur in nearly half of patients. Frequent surveillance of the remaining aorta is mandatory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1512-1517
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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