Cardiothoracic surgery is facing a multitude of challenges in leadership and training on the global scale, these being a complex and aging patient population, shortage of cardiac surgeons, diminishing student interest and trainee enthusiasm, increasingly challenging training obstacles and work-life imbalances, suboptimal job prospects, reports of discrimination and bullying and lack of diversity as well as gap between innovation and technology, clinical application, and training of future surgeons. The survival of cardiac surgery hinges on the leadership attracting and retaining young surgeons into the specialty. Mentoring, leading through example, recognizing the work-life imbalances, adapting to diverse and modern training models and embracing diversity with respect to gender and race, will ultimately be required to create and cultivate a nurturing environment of training and preparing future leaders. The vision for training future generations of cardiothoracic surgeons must rely heavily on strengthening the unity of the heart team. In doing so we can provide the best possible care for our patients and a most fulfilling career for the future generation of cardiac surgeons.
Background: Partial anomalous pulmonary venous connection (PAPVC) occurs when at least one pulmonary vein drains into the right atrium or its tributaries rather than the left atrium, most commonly connecting with the superior vena cava (SVC). The Warden procedure involves transecting the SVC proximal to the uppermost connection of the pulmonary vein followed by proximal SVC reattachment to the right atrial appendage. However, descending thoracic aortic homograft replacement for SVC translocation has recently been introduced as a modified technique. Aims: This commentary aims to discuss the recent study by Said and colleagues who reported their experiences with 6 PAPVC cases undergoing a modified Warden procedure using thoracic aortic homograft SVC translocation. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was performed using multiple electronic databases in order to collate the relevant research evidence. Results: The Warden procedure is associated with a 10% incidence of SVC obstruction with many requiring reintervention. Meanwhile, using the aortic homograft for SVC translocation, Said et al. observed no SVC obstructions. In addition, this modified technique does not require anticoagulation and has demonstrated an improvement in long-term SVC patency. Nevertheless, it can be considered an expensive procedure. Moreover, since the thoracic aortic homograft utilised is biological tissue, only long-term follow-up will determine whether calcification and graft degeneration is an issue. Conclusion: It can be concluded that the modified Warden procedure is a safe and effective method to reconstruct the systemic venous drainage into the right atrium when a direct anastomosis under tension might be prone to re-stenosis.
Background: Type A aortic dissection (TAAD) involves a tear in the intimal layer of the thoracic aorta proximal to the left subclavian artery, and hence, carries a high risk of mortality and morbidity and requires urgent intervention. This dissection can extend into the main coronary arteries. Coronary artery involvement in TAAD can either be due to retrograde extension of the dissection flap into the coronaries or compression and/or blockage of these vessels by the dissection flap, possibly causing myocardial ischaemia. Due to the emergent nature of TAAD, coronary involvement is often missed during diagnosis, thereby delaying the required intervention. Aims: The main scope of this review is to summarise the literature on the incidence, mechanism, diagnosis, and treatment of coronary artery involvement in TAAD. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was performed using multiple electronic databases, including PubMed, Ovid, Scopus and Embase, to identify and extract relevant studies. Results: Incidence of coronary artery involvement in TAAD was seldom reported in the literature, however, some studies have described patients diagnosed either preoperatively, intraoperatively following aortic clamping, or even during autopsy. Among the few studies that reported on this matter, the treatment choice for coronary involvement in TAAD was varied, with the majority revascularizing the coronary arteries using coronary artery bypass grafting or direct local repair of the vessels. It is well-established that coronary artery involvement in TAAD adds to the already high mortality and morbidity associated with this disease. Lastly, the right main coronary artery was often more implicated than the left. Conclusion: This review reiterates the significance of an accurate diagnosis and timely and effective interventions to improve prognosis. Finally, further large cohort studies and longer trials are needed to reach a definitive consensus on the best approach for coronary involvement in TAAD.
Background: Acute type A aortic dissection (ATAAD) is a life-threatening medical condition requiring urgent surgical attention. It is estimated that 50% of ATAAD die within 24 hours of onset, with the mortality rate is increasing by 1-2% every additional hour without prompt intervention. A variety of ATAAD surgical repair techniques exist which has sparked controversy within the literature, with the main two strategies being proximal aortic replacement (PAR) and total arch replacement (TAR). Nevertheless, the question of which of these two strategies if the more optimal is still debatable. Aims: This commentary aims to discuss the recent study by Sa and colleagues which presents a pooled analysis of Kaplan-Meier-derived individual patient data from studies with follow-up comparing aggressive (TAR) and conservative (PAR) approaches to manage ATAAD patients. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was performed using multiple electronic databases including PubMed, Ovid, Google Scholar, EMBASE and Scopus in order to collate the relevant research evidence. Results: The more aggressive TAR approach for treating ATAAD seems to yield more favourable results including more optimal long-term survival as well as a lower need for reoperation. The frozen elephant trunk (FET) technique can be considered the mainstay TAR technique. Conclusion: It is valid to conclude that TAR with FET is the superior strategy for managing ATAAD patients.
Background While open surgical repair continues to be the mainstay option for aortic arch reconstruction, the associated mortality, morbidity, and high turn-down rates have led to a need for the development of minimally invasive options for aortic arch repair. Though RELAY™ Branched (Terumo Aortic, Inchinnan, UK) represents a promising option for complex endovascular aortic arch repair, neurological complications remain a pertinent risk. Herein we seek to present multi-centre data from Europe documenting the neurological outcomes associated with RELAY™ Branched. Methods Prospective data collected between January 2019 and January 2022 associated with patients treated with RELAY™ single-, double-, and triple-branched endoprostheses from centres across Europe was retrospectively analysed with descriptive and distributive analysis. Follow up data from 30 days and 6-, 12-, and 24 months postoperatively was included. Patients follow up was evaluated for the onset of disabling stroke (DS) and non-disabling stroke (NDS). Results Technical success was achieved in 147 (99.3%) cases. Over 24 months period, in total, 6 (4.1%) patients suffered DS and 8 (5.4%) patients suffered NDS after undergoing aortic arch repair with RELAY™. All patients that developed postoperative DS had been treated with the double-branched RELAY™ endoprosthesis. Discussion The data presented herein demonstrates that RELAY™ Branched is associated with favourable neurological outcomes and excellent technical success rates. Key design features of the endoprosthesis and good perioperative management can contribute greatly to mitigating neurological complications following endovascular aortic arch repair.
Background: The introduction of the frozen elephant trunk (FET) technique for total arch replacement (TAR) has revolutionized the field of aortovascular surgery. However, although FET yields excellent results, the risk of certain complications requiring secondary intervention remains present, negating its one-step hybrid advantage over conventional techniques. This systematic review and meta-analysis sought to evaluate controversies regarding the incidence of FET-related complications, with a focus on aortic remodeling, distal stent-graft induced new entry (dSINE) and endoleak, in patients with type A aortic dissection (TAAD) and/or thoracic aortic aneurysm. Materials and methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted using multiple electronic databases including EMBASE, Scopus, and PubMed/MEDLINE to identify evidence on TAR with FET in patients with TAAD and/or aneurysm. Studies published up until January 2022 were included, and after applying exclusion criteria, a total of 43 studies were extracted. Results: A total of 5068 patients who underwent FET procedure were included. The pooled estimates of dSINE and endoleak were 2% (95% CI 0.01-0.06, I 2 = 78%) and 3% (95% CI 0.01-0.11, I 2 = 89%), respectively. The pooled rate of secondary thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) post-FET was 7% (95% CI 0.05-0.12, I 2 = 89%) whilst the pooled rate of false lumen thrombosis at the level of stent-graft was 91% (95% CI 0.75-0.97, I 2 = 92%). After subgroup analysis, heterogeneity for dSINE and endoleak resolved among European patients, where Thoraflex Hybrid and E-Vita stent-grafts were used (both I 2 = 0%). In addition, heterogeneity for secondary TEVAR after FET resolved among Asians receiving Cronus (I 2 = 15.1%) and Frozenix stent -grafts (I 2 = 1%). Conclusion: Our results showed that the FET procedure in patients with TAAD and/or aneurysm is associated with excellent results, with a particularly low incidence of dSINE and endoleak as well as highly favorable aortic remodeling. However the type of stent-graft and the study location were sources of heterogeneity, emphasizing the need for multicenter studies directly comparing FET grafts. Finally, Thoraflex Hybrid can be considered the primary FET device choice due to its superior results.
Background: The average living age of the population is constantly increasing and so is the incidence and prevalence of aortic valve disease. Surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) is the current gold standard treatment. Nevertheless, the use of prosthetic valves in SAVR is associated with issues that impact patients’ quality of life. Aortic valve neocuspidization (AV Neo) offers a means to solve this dilemma by minimising foreign valve tissue. AV Neo can either be performed using glutaraldehyde-treated autologous pericardium (Ozaki procedure) or bovine pericardium (Batista procedure). Aims: This commentary aims to discuss the recent study by Chan and colleagues which highlighted the surgical approach, clinical outcomes and limitations of the Ozaki procedure, and compare this to the Batista procedure. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was performed using multiple electronic databases including PubMed, Ovid, Embase and Scopus in order to collate the relevant research evidence. Results: Although the Ozaki procedure can achieve favourable results whilst mainly avoiding the need for life-long oral anticoagulation with mechanical valves, it still has several limitations that may hinder results. AV Neo using glutaraldehyde-treated bovine pericardium, developed by pioneer cardiac surgeon Dr. Randas J. Vilela Batista, yields superior clinical outcomes to Ozaki’s, including excellent survival, lower complications and minimal need for reoperation as well as shorter operative times. Conclusion: AV Neo offers a means to perform SAVR whilst escaping the prosthetic valve issues. However, the Batista procedure has shown beyond doubt that it can be considered the superior approach for AV Neo over the Ozaki procedure.
Background: There is emerging evidence to support pre-emptive thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) intervention for uncomplicated type B aortic dissection (unTBAD). Pre-emptive intervention would be particularly beneficial in patients that have a higher baseline risk of progressing to complicated TBAD (coTBAD). There remains debate on the optimal clinical, laboratory, morphological and radiological parameters which would identify the highest-risk patients that would benefit most from pre-emptive TEVAR. Aim: This review summarises evidence on the clinical, laboratory, and morphological parameters that increase the risk profiles of unTBAD patients. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was carried out on multiple electronic databases including PubMed, EMBASE, Ovid and Scopus in order to collate all research evidence on the the clinical, laboratory, and morphological parameters that increase the risk profiles of unTBAD patients Results: At present, there are no clear clinical guidelines using risk-stratification to inform the selection of unTBAD patients for TEVAR. However, there are noticeable literature trends that can assist with the identification of the most at-risk unTBAD patients. Patients are at particular risk when they have refractory pain and/or hypertension, elevated C-reactive protein (CRP), larger aortic diameter and larger entry tears. These risks should be considered alongside factors that increase the procedural risk of TEVAR to create a well-balanced approach. Advances in biomarkers and imaging are likely to identify more pertinent parameters in future to optimise the development of balanced, risk-stratified treatment protocols. Conclusion: There are a variety of risk profiling parameters that can be used to identify the high-risk unTBAD patient, with novel biomarkers and imaging parameter emerging. Longer-term evidence verifying these parameters would be ideal. Further randomized controlled trials and multicentre registry analyses are also warranted to guide risk-stratified selection protocols.
Background: Acute type B aortic dissection (TBAD) is a rare condition that can be divided into complicated (CoTBAD) and uncomplicated (UnCoTBAD) based on certain presenting clinical and radiological features, with UnCoTBAD constituting the majority of TBAD cases. The classification of TBAD directly affects the treatment pathway taken, however, there remains confusion as to exactly what differentiates complicated from uncomplicated TBAD. Aims: The scope of this review is to delineate the literature defining the intervention parameters for UnCoTBAD. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted using multiple electronic databases including PubMed, Scopus, and EMBASE to collate and summarize all research evidence on intervention parameters and protocols for UnCoTBAD. Results: A TBAD without evidence of malperfusion or rupture might be classified as uncomplicated but there remains a subgroup who might exhibit high-risk features. Two clinical features representative of “high risk” are refractory pain and persistent hypertension. First line treatment for CoTBAD is TEVAR, and whilst this has also proven its safety and effectiveness in UnCoTBAD, it is still being managed conservatively. However, TBAD is a dynamic pathology and a significant proportion of UnCoTBADs can progress to become complicated, thus necessitating more complex intervention. While the “high risk” UnCoTBAD do benefit the most from TEVAR, yet, the defining parameters are still debatable as this benefit can be extended to a wider UnCoTBAD population. Conclusion: Uncomplicated TBAD remains a misnomer as it is frequently representative of a complex ongoing disease process requiring very close monitoring in a critical care setting. A clear diagnostic pathway may improve decision making following a diagnosis of UnCoTBAD. Choice of treatment still predominantly depends on when an equilibrium might be reached where the risks of TEVAR outweigh the natural history of the dissection in both the short- and long-term.
Type A aortic dissection (TAAD) is a life-threatening clinical emergency requiring timely surgical intervention. Concomitant with pregnancy at any stage, it adds an additional level of complexity which mandates careful planning for the management strategy that will yield the optimal outcomes. It is life-threatening pathology to both the mother and foetus, with mortality rates of up to 30% and 50% reported, respectively. Safe imaging modalities that do no expose the foetus to radiation and contrast are recommended to reach an accurate diagnosis. In addition, meticulous multi-disciplinary team planning is pivotal to ensure optimal outcomes are achieved through careful choice of surgical technique as well as strict control of medications. Although TAAD in pregnancy is associated with high mortality and morbidity to both the mother and her foetus, success in the treatment of this small subset of patients can certainly be achieved.
Background: Initial clinical evaluation (ICE) is traditionally considered a useful screening tool to identify frail patients during the pre-operative assessment. However, emerging evidence supports the more objective assessment of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) via cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) to improve surgical risk stratification. Herein, we compared both subjective and objective assessment approaches to highlight the interpretive idiosyncrasies. Methods: As part of routine pre-operative patient contact, patients scheduled for major surgery were prospectively ‘eyeballed’ (ICE) by two experienced clinicians prior to more detailed history taking that also included American Society of Anaesthesiologists score classification. Each patient was subjectively judged to be either ‘frail’ or ‘not frail’ by ICE and ‘fit’ or ‘unfit’ from thorough review of the medical notes. Subjective data were compared against the more objective validated assessment of post-operative outcomes using established CPET ‘cut-off’ metrics incorporating peak pulmonary oxygen uptake ( V̇O 2PEAK), V̇O 2 at the anaerobic threshold ( V̇O 2-AT) and ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide that collectively informed risk stratification. These data were retrospectively extracted from a single-centre prospective National Health Service database. Data were analysed using the Chi-square automatic interaction detection decision tree method. Results: A total of 127 patients examined that comprised 58 % male and 42 % female patients aged 69 ± 10 y with a BMI of 29 ± 7 kg/m 2. Patients were poorly conditioned with a peak pulmonary oxygen uptake almost 20 % lower than that predicted for age, sex-matched healthy controls with 35 % exhibiting a V̇O 2-AT <11 mL/kg/min. Disagreement existed between the subjective assessments of risk with ~34 % of patients classified not frail on ICE were considered unfit by notes review ( P < 0.0001). Furthermore, ~35 % of patients considered not frail on ICE and ~31 % of patients considered fit by notes review exhibited a V̇O 2-AT <11 mL/kg/min and of these, ~28 % and ~19 % were classified as intermediate-to-high risk. Conclusions: These findings highlight the interpretive limitations associated with the subjective assessment of patient frailty with surgical risk classification underestimated in up to a third of patients compared to the validated assessment of CRF. They reinforce the benefits of a more objective and integrated approach offered by CPET that may help improve perioperative risk assessment and better direct critical care provision in patients scheduled for ‘high-stakes’ surgery including open TAAA repair.