NEW YORK – With more than 1 million adults living today with congenital aortic disease, cardiovascular surgeons must think of outcomes in terms of decades, not years, when performing aortic arch repair in newborns, infants, and children, according to Charles D. Fraser Jr., M.D.
To that end, an all-autologous approach to aortic arch repair is key in preserving problem-free aortic function in adulthood, said Dr. Fraser, surgeon-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
Dr. Fraser reported on his center’s experience with all-autologous aortic arch repair techniques. He reviewed the following five principles that guide aortic arch repair in newborns, infants, and children at Texas Children’s Hospital:
• Use of autologous tissue reconstruction and avoidance of prosthetic material.
• Concomitant intracardiac repair.
• Use of anatomic reconstruction.
• Optimization of ventriculoarterial coupling.
• Preservation of laryngeal nerve function.
“The principles we developed at Texas Children’s Hospital we hope will translate into fewer of these patients that surgeons caring for adults with aortic disease will have to take care of later in life,” Dr. Fraser said at the meeting sponsored by the American Association for Thoracic Surgery. He reviewed cases in which he explained techniques he and his colleagues developed to address long-term outcomes.
The first challenge is to determine when to perform aortic repair in pediatric patients. “A question often asked is how small is too small when assessing the aortic arch in association with significant periductal coarctation?” he said. “Our rule of thumb has been that the arch diameter measured in millimeters should be at least the patient’s weight in kilograms plus one.” In other words, a 3-kg baby should have an aortic arch of at least 4 mm in diameter, he said.
He described the case of a 3.8-kg male baby on prostaglandin E1 who had aortic arch advancement repair and closure of atrial and ventricular septal defects at 8 days of age. The patient had an early origin of the left common carotid artery and a small proximal aortic arch. “This is the kind of patient in which we would do a complete aortic arch reconstruction, again with the autologous technique,” Dr. Fraser said.
In such a patient, Dr. Fraser and his colleagues at Texas Children’s Hospital support the circulation to the brain with antegrade cerebral perfusion, using transcranial Doppler and near-infrared spectroscopy to guide their profusion strategy, before putting the child on cardiac bypass and “profound” hypothermia. Careful planning before cannulation is important to perform the aortic transection at the correct level, he said
He also explained the ascending sliding arch aortoplasty, also known as the “Texas slide,” first described by E. Dean McKenzie, M.D., at Texas Children’s Hospital in 2011 (Ann. Thorac. Surg. 2011;91:805-10) This technique involves sliding a tongue-shaped piece of the ascending aorta underneath the aortic arch to construct an all-autologous repair.
“In patients with bicuspid aortic valves, we often observe that the ascending aorta is extremely elongated,” he said. “The idea is to take advantage of that and slide the ascending aorta completely up underneath the aortic arch and construct an all-autologous arch advancement type of repair.”
He presented the case of a 4-year-old boy with coarctation of the aorta in whom the Texas slide was indicated. “If this patient were treated with a simple coarctectomy, the patient would be subject to a life with a moderately hypoplastic aortic arch, and over the course of time, this could be problematic,” Dr. Fraser said. “The sliding reconstruction has relevance not only to the status of the aortic arch over the long term but it also has a profound effect on ventricular function.”
He noted a single-center, retrospective study from the United Kingdom that demonstrated that the quality of the aortic arch reconstruction, and the related opportunity for ventricular arterial coupling, directly correlate with long-term performance of the aortic arch in patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2014;148:1526-33).
“This is very important as part of the growing population of these patients who need long-term management, most of whom we’re anticipating managing not just for years, but for decades,” Dr. Fraser said.
He said he had no relevant financial disclosures.