Conference Coverage

Low mortality, good outcomes in octogenarian AAA repair sparks QOL vs. utility debate

Key clinical point: EVAR and OSR outcomes for AAA were both shown safe and effective at 30 days and 6 months in patients 80 years and older.

Major finding: Perioperative mortality in elective and emergent AAA repair was 2% and 35%, respectively, with a median survival rate of 19 months in both groups.

Data source: Prospective study of 847 consecutive AAA-repair patients at a single site between May 2005 and February 2014.

Disclosures: Dr. Lamb did not have any relevant disclosures.

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Elective repair can be justified and reasonable

This discussion is provocative and raises some interesting points. Obviously cost effectiveness considerations are important, and our country does not have unlimited funds to spend on medical care. And perhaps there are some elderly and frail individuals who should not have their AAAs repaired electively because the risk of rupture during the patients’ remaining months or years of life is small.

This is particularly true if the patient’s AAA is less than 7 cm and his or her anatomy and condition are unsuitable for an easy repair. However, if the AAA is large and threatening, and the patient has the possibility of living several years, elective repair is justified and reasonable – especially if it can be accomplished endovascularly. As someone who is near 80 [years old], I could not feel more strongly about this, and I would maintain this view if I were near 90 and healthy.

Dr. Frank J. Veith

I hold the same view even more strongly regarding a ruptured AAA. In this setting, the alternative management is nontreatment, which is uniformly fatal. The common term “palliative treatment” for such nontreatment is a misleading misnomer. No sane, reasonably healthy elderly patient would knowingly choose such nontreatment when a good alternative with well over an even chance of living a lot longer is offered. That good alternative – again especially if it can be performed endovascularly – should be offered, and our health system should pay for it and compensate by saving money on unnecessary SFA [superficial femoral artery] stents and carotid procedures.

Dr. Frank J. Veith is professor of surgery at New York University Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic and is an associate medical editor for Vascular Specialist.




As to whether there was a bias toward not repairing AAA in older patients, Dr. Lamb said it was incumbent on any health system to evaluate a procedure’s cost effectiveness, but that, “the life expectancy of a vascular patient is often more limited than I think we’d like to believe ... we don’t know what the natural history of these patients’ life expectancy is. We don’t know from these data what the cause of death was, but anecdotally, we didn’t see hundreds of patients return with ruptured aneurysms after an EVAR.”

Dr. Samuel R. Money

Dr. Samuel R. Money

“I would truly like to see how many [of these patients] who make it out of the hospital return to normal living within six months,” Dr. Samuel R. Money, chair of surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., said in an interview following the presentation. “At some point, the question becomes ‘Can we afford to spend $100,000 dollars to keep a 90-year-old patient alive for 6 more months?’ Can this society sustain the cost of that?”

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