Implementation of a bundled protocol significantly reduces risk of spinal cord ischemia after branched or fenestrated endovascular aortic repair

Academic Article


  • Objective Spinal cord ischemia (SCI) is a devastating complication after branched or fenestrated endovascular aortic repair (B/FEVAR) for thoracoabdominal aortic disease. The purpose of this analysis was to describe the impact of a bundled clinical care protocol designed to reduce the risk of SCI in this population of patients. Methods A bundled SCI prevention protocol including cerebrospinal fluid drainage, blood pressure parameters, transfusion goals, and pharmacologic adjuncts (steroids, naloxone) was initiated in May 2015. Before that date, portions of the protocol (cerebrospinal fluid drainage in particular) were used in an informal fashion in patients perceived to be at high risk. B/FEVAR cases completed from January 2012 to May 2016 were reviewed, and outcomes before (n = 223) and after (n = 70) SCI bundle application were compared. The primary end point was the incidence of SCI events. Secondary end points included length of stay, complications, and survival. High-risk patients for SCI were defined as those undergoing B/FEVAR resulting in aortic coverage equivalent to open Crawford extent I to III thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (TAAA) repair. Survival was estimated using Kaplan-Meier life-table analysis. Results Postprotocol patients were more likely to be older (75 ± 7 vs 72 ± 8 years; P =.03), to have an American Society of Anesthesiologists class 4 designation (94% vs 81%; P =.04), and to be treated for TAAA (67% vs 56%; P =.004). Postprotocol pre-emptive spinal drain use was greater in high-risk patients (100% vs 87%; P =.04) but significantly decreased in lower risk patients (suprarenal aneurysm or extent IV TAAA: 5% after protocol implementation vs 21% before protocol implementation; P =.04). Rates of any SCI before and after implementation of the bundled protocol were 13% (n = 29 of 223) and 3% (n = 2 of 70; P =.007), respectively. In comparing high-risk patients, protocol use resulted in an even more significant reduction in SCI rate (19% [28 of 144] vs 4% [2 of 50]; P =.004). Postoperative morbidity (41% vs 33%; P =.2) and 30-day mortality (5% vs 1%; P =.3) were not different between groups. However, patients treated on protocol had significantly improved 1-year survival (99% ± 1% after protocol implementation vs 90% ± 2% before protocol implementation; log-rank, P =.05). Conclusions Implementation of a bundled multimodal protocol may significantly reduce risk of SCI after B/FEVAR, with the greatest risk reduction occurring in the most vulnerable patients. Interestingly, reduction in SCI risk was associated with improvement in 1-year survival.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 26981369
  • Author List

  • Scali ST; Kim M; Kubilis P; Feezor RJ; Giles KA; Miller B; Fatima J; Huber TS; Berceli SA; Back M
  • Start Page

  • 409
  • End Page

  • 423.e4
  • Volume

  • 67
  • Issue

  • 2