Endovascular aortic repair

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Endovascular aortic repair
Anesthesia type

General Neuraxial (for abdominal aneurysm) Local with MAC (rare)


ETT if general

Lines and access

PIV x 2 (at least 1 large bore (14-16 G) Arterial line (right sided preferred)


Standard ASA monitors 5-lead EKG Arterial line TEE (for thoracic aneurysm)

Primary anesthetic considerations

Assess co-existing cardiovascular comorbidities


Heparin for anticoagulation Consider decrease BP immediately prior to stent deployment and/or increase BP post-deployment


Monitor for spinal/intraabdominal ischemia due to graft occlusion

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Endovascular aortic repair is a surgical procedure by which a stent graft is deployed along the extent of an aortic lesion through vascular access, typically via the common femoral vessels. The stent graft protects the aneurysmal wall from high blood pressure in the aorta decreasing the risk of rupture.

Aortic repair is indicated when an aneurysm is at high risk of rupture, which is defined as[1][2]:

  • Size larger than 5.5 cm
  • Growth of 10 mm or more per year

The procedure involves obtaining vascular access to allow the introduction of the stent deployment apparatus. Prior to the introduction of stent deployment apparatus, systemic heparinization is provided. Fluoroscopy is performed with IV contrast to evaluate vascular anatomy and guide stent placement. Once the stent graft is deployed and placement confirmed with fluoroscopy/TEE without the presence of endoleak or aortic dissection, the stent graft introducer is removed and vascular access sites are closed[2].

Preoperative management

Patient evaluation

System Considerations
Neurologic Assess for presence of history cerebrovascular disease or carotid stenosis by obtaining baseline neurologic exam, especially strength of lower extremities and auscultation.
Cardiovascular Assess baseline functional status and evaluate for myocardial ischemia, previous myocardial infarction, valvular dysfunction, heart failure and peripheral arterial disease.
Pulmonary Assess for COPD, cigarette smoking, and reversible pulmonary pathology.

Smoking cessation of at least 8 weeks is optimal.

Renal Preoperative hydration and avoidance of nephrotoxic drugs during the perioperative period are important to reduce the risk of kidney injury due to IV contrast used during the procedure.

Labs and studies

  • Type and screen
  • Contrast-enhanced spiral CT scans of the thorax and thoracic aortography to assess the dimensions of the aneurysms
    • This allows for the assessment of adequate proximal and distal neck for surgical planning. The CT scan also helps assess the adequacy of the vessel used for vascular access for the stent introducer system
  • EKG to assess for any myocardial ischemia or previous infarction
  • TTE to assess valvular disease, size and extent of aneurysm, and LV function
  • Exercise or pharmacologic stress testing or radionuclide imaging may be warranted

Operating room setup

Patient preparation and premedication

  • IV midazolam for anxiety
  • PO acetaminophen for pain control

Regional and neuraxial techniques

Spinal and/or epidural may be considered for endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair [3]

Intraoperative management

Monitoring and access

  • Standard ASA monitors
  • 5-lead EKG
  • Arterial line is required as it allows prompt vasopressor titration in response to blood pressure change, particularly just prior to stent deployment and post stent deployment
    • Right sided preference as left sided vascular access from the surgical team may be needed allowing for an easier approach to the aorta compared to right sided approach. Also, the stent graft may block the L subclavian artery leading to false reading [3]
  • TEE used to assist in the identification of aneurysm necks, monitor the deployment of the stent graft, endoleaks status post deployment, and aortic dissection (Endovascular Thoracic Aneurysm Repair)
  • Urine output monitoring in the setting of possible renal vessel occlusion from deployment of stent graft and contrast induced nephropathy
  • Spinal drain monitoring if placed for high risk patient undergoing endovascular thoracic aneurysm stent grafting
  • Somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) and motor evoked potentials (MEPs) may be used to assess for spinal ischemia for patient undergoing endovascular thoracic stent grafting[2]
  • At Least 1 large bore IV (14-16G) given risk of vascular injury or rupture

Induction and airway management

  • Most common anesthesia type is general anesthesia
    • May need to reverse neuromuscular blockade if neuromonitoring is used
  • If neuraxial anesthesia is chosen, supplement with minimal to deep sedation as needed
  • Rarely, local anesthetic placement by the surgical team with monitored anesthesia care is used, depending on patient cooperativity.


  • Supine +/- slight right lateral decubitus (endovascular thoracic aortic aneurysm repair)

Maintenance and surgical considerations

  • Volatile anesthetics supplemented with opioids for analgesia if neuromonitoring is not used
  • If neuromonitoring is used, 0.5 MAC of volatile anesthetic supplemented by IV anesthetic/opioids or TIVA and avoiding neuromuscular blockade after intubating dose
  • Administration of heparin prior to introducer insertion
  • Verification of activated clotting time (ACT) throughout the case with goal of 200 seconds until introducer is removed [2]
  • Maintenance of baseline MAP as this patient population have increase risk of CVA, MI, aortic dissection, and paraplegia
  • Just prior to stent deployment, BP must be decrease to reduce the risk of graft migration during deployment with vasodilators
  • Post stent graft deployment, BP is increased to ensure perfusion especially if there is a risk of spinal ischemia with vasopressors


  • PONV prophylaxis
  • Reversal of neuromuscular blockade if used
  • Assessment of hip flexion if spinal cord is at risk for ischemia
  • Reversal of heparin with protamine with confirmation of ACT returning to normal value

Postoperative management


  • PACU then floor
  • Consider ICU if intraoperative complications occur

Pain management

  • Postoperative pain is usually mild
  • Multimodal pain management
    • PO/IV acetaminophen
    • PO/IV opioid
    • Local anesthetic at vascular access sites
    • Epidural analgesia if chosen as anesthetic technique
    • Usually avoiding NSAID due to pre-existing renal disease or potential renal injury

Potential complications

  • Endoleaks
  • Vascular injury
  • Graft migration
  • Stent frame fractures
  • Breakdown of graft material
  • Spinal cord ischemia or infarction secondary to occlusion of intercostal arteries
  • Intraabdominal ischemia secondary to occlusion of vessels supplying the gastro-intestinal organ including the celiac artery, superior mesenteric artery, inferior mesenteric artery, and renal arteries
  • Bleeding from groin site or retroperitoneal bleeding
  • Contrast induced nephropathy

Procedure variants

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
Unique considerations Use of TEE and possible neuromonitoring and lumbar drain Neuraxial anesthesia possible
Position Supine +/- slight right lateral decubitus Supine
Surgical time 1-3 hours 1-3 hours
EBL Minimal, unless vascular injury Minimal, unless vascular injury
Postoperative disposition Usually PACU to the floor, possible ICU Usually PACU to the floor
Pain management Multimodal Multimodal
Potential complications Paraplegia Intraabdominal ischemia/infarction


  1. Stoelting's anesthesia and co-existing disease. Roberta L. Hines, Stephanie B. Jones, Robert K. Stoelting (Eighth edition ed.). Philadelphia, PA. 2022. ISBN 978-0-323-71861-5. OCLC 1280374077. |edition= has extra text (help)CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Cheruku, Sreekanth; Huang, Norman; Meinhardt, Kyle; Aguirre, Marco (2019-12). "Anesthetic Management for Endovascular Repair of the Thoracic Aorta". Anesthesiology Clinics. 37 (4): 593–607. doi:10.1016/j.anclin.2019.07.001. ISSN 1932-2275. PMID 31677680. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Anesthesiologist's manual of surgical procedures. Richard A. Jaffe, Clifford A. Schmiesing, Brenda Golianu (Sixth edition ed.). Philadelphia. 2020. ISBN 978-1-4698-2916-6. OCLC 1117874404. |edition= has extra text (help)CS1 maint: others (link)