BACKGROUND: Acute aortic occlusion most commonly results from aortic saddle embolus or thrombosis of an atherosclerotic abdominal aorta. The purpose of this study was to review the experience at a university hospital to better define the diagnosis and management of this uncommon process. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed from patients admitted to Emory University Hospital with acute occlusion of the abdominal aorta from 1985 through 1997. RESULTS: Thirty-three patients were identified. In group EMB (n = 16), occlusion was due to saddle embolus. In group IST (n = 17), occlusion was attributed to in situ thrombosis of a severely diseased aorta. Operative procedures performed included transfemoral embolectomy (15), aortobifemoral bypass (9), axillobifemoral bypass (5), fasciotomy (3), and thrombolysis (1). The in-hospital mortality rate was 21% (31% EMB, 12% IST), and morbidity was significant and included mesenteric ischemia (6%), bleeding complications (9%), subsequent amputation (12%), renal failure (15%), recurrent embolization or thrombosis (21%), and cardiac complications (42%). CONCLUSIONS: Acute aortic occlusion has tremendous morbidity and mortality even with optimal surgical care.
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