Cerebral embolic protection during endovascular arch replacement
Despite excellent results in high volume centers, open repair of aortic arch pathology is highly invasive, and can result in significant morbidity and mortality in high risk patients. Near-total and hybrid approaches to aortic arch disease states have emerged as an alternative for patients deemed moderate to high risk for conventional repair. Advantages of these approaches include avoidance of extracorporeal circulation and hypothermic circulatory arrest as well as avoidance of cross clamping, all of which are not well tolerated in high risk patients. Anatomically high-risk patients with anastomotic aneurysms from previous arch reconstruction may also benefit from these less invasive approaches. Medical devices designed specifically for the aortic arch are developing at a rapid pace and continue to evolve. Dedicated devices for zone 0–2 aortic arch repair are currently available under special access or being studied in clinical trials. Unfortunately, stroke continues to be the Achilles heel of endovascular approaches to the aortic arch, with cerebral embolism being the culprit in the majority of such cases. This perspective article describes the epidemiology, procedures, and mitigation strategies for current near-total and hybrid approaches to aortic arch pathology, and specifically addresses current means of embolic protection and future direction.