Aortoenteric fistulas (AEFs) are an uncommon but lethal form of aortic graft infection with morbidity and mortality rates reported in the literature to range from 14% to 75%. Over a 20-year period, researchers found that nearly half of their patients undergoing repair of their aortoenteric fistulas died within 60 days. The presence of gastrointestinal complications increased the risk of mortality more than threefold, according to the results of a single-center retrospective review of consecutive AEF repairs.
The researchers assessed 50 patients who presented with AEF and had repair during 1995-2014. Sixty percent of the patients were men, and the overall median age was 70 years. The median follow-up for the entire cohort was 14 months. The duodenum was the most common location of the enteric defect, found in 80% of the infections. Overall, 23 patients (46%) died by day 60, according to the report published in the July.
Univariate analysis showed that advanced age, chronic renal insufficiency, any complications, and GI complications in particular (occurring in 26% of patients) were all associated with an increase in overall mortality (P less than .05). But upon multivariate analysis, gastrointestinal complications (hazard ratio, 3.23; P = .015) and advanced age (HR, 1.07; P = .01) were the only independent predictors of mortality, Atish Chopra, MD, of the division of vascular surgery, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, and his colleagues wrote.
The institution changed operative procedures in 2007, based upon an earlier assessment of the importance of GI complications performed by the researchers, with greater emphasis placed on ensuring a viable GI reconstruction, and early intervention for mesenteric ischemia. In addition, they surmised that, after 2007, there was improved adherence to achieving wide debridement of nonviable and infected tissue, and to creating a tension-free anastomosis to healthy tissue edges while optimizing nutritional, medical, and antibiotic therapy, according to the researchers.