Protecting the brain and spinal cord in aortic arch surgery
Protection of the central nervous system—either the brain or the spinal cord—during aortic surgery has been the subject of intense research over the past several decades. While it took some 30 years to prove that some of the techniques first practiced in animals are valuable, surgeons can now take courage from 50 years of research that has resulted in superb outcomes, particularly when compared with historical results. Complex total arch operations and descending aortic operations can now be performed with less than a 2% rate of stroke, spinal cord injury, or death. Thoracoabdominal aortic operations and endovascular procedures have also become considerably safer with excellent results reported. The following review will discuss some of the historical outcomes, innovations, iterations, current techniques, and outcomes.