Intimal aortic atherosclerosis in cardiac surgery: Surgical strategies to prevent embolic stroke

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Although the incidence of perioperative stroke after cardiac surgery gradually decreased over the last decades, there is much variation between centres. This review aimed to create a concise overview of the evidence on possible surgical strategies to prevent embolic stroke in patients with intimal aortic atherosclerosis. METHODS: The PubMed and EMBASE databases were searched for studies on surgical management of aortic atherosclerosis and the association with perioperative stroke in cardiac surgery, including specific searches on the most common types of surgery. Articles were screened with emphasis on studies comparing multiple strategies and studies reporting on the patients' severity of aortic atherosclerosis. The main findings were summarized in a figure, with a grade of the corresponding level of evidence. RESULTS: Regarding embolic stroke risk, aortic atherosclerosis of the tunica intima is most relevant. Although several strategies in general cardiac surgery seem to be beneficial in severe disease, none have conclusively been proven most effective. Off-pump surgery in coronary artery bypass grafting should be preferred with severe atherosclerosis, if the required expertise is present. Although transcatheter aortic valve replacement is used as an alternative to surgery in patients with a porcelain aorta, the risk profile concerning intimal atherosclerosis remains poorly defined. CONCLUSIONS: A tailored approach that uses the discussed alternative strategies in carefully selected patients is best suited to reduce the risk of perioperative stroke without compromising other outcomes. More research is needed, especially on the perioperative stroke risk in patients with moderate aortic atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1259-1267
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Volume60
Issue number6
Early online date30 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

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