Evolution of surgical therapy for Stanford acute type A aortic dissection
Acute type A aortic dissection (AcA-AoD) is a surgical emergency associated with very high morbidity and mortality. Unfortunately, the early outcome of emergency surgical repair has not improved substantially over the last 20 years. Many of the same debates occur repeatedly regarding operative extent and optimal conduct of the operation. The question remains: are patients suffering from too large an operation or too small? The pendulum favoring routine aortic valve resuspension, when feasible, has swung towards frequent aortic root replacement. This already aggressive approach is now being challenged with the even more extensive valve-sparing aortic root replacement (V-SARR) in selected patients. Distally, open replacement of most of the transverse arch is best in most patients. The need for late aortic re-intervention has not been shown to be affected by more extensive distal operative procedures, but the contemporary enthusiasm for a distal frozen elephant trunk (FET) only seems to build. It must be remembered that the first and foremost goal of the operation is to have an operative survivor; additional measures to reduce late morbidity are secondary aspirations. With increasing experience, true contraindications to emergency surgical operation have dwindled, but patients with advanced age, multiple comorbidities, and major neurological deficits do not fare well. The endovascular revolution, moreover, has spawned innovative options for modern practice, including ascending stent graft and adaptations of the old flap fenestration technique. Despite the increasingly complex operations and ever expanding therapies, this life-threatening disease remains a stubborn challenge for all cardiovascular surgeons. Development of specialized thoracic aortic teams and regionalization of care for patients with AcA-AoD offers the most promise to improve overall results.