Conservative observational management with selective delayed repair for large abdominal aortic aneurysms in high risk patients

F. J. Veith, E. M. Tanquilut, T. Ohki, E. C. Lipsitz, W. D. Suggs, R. A. Wain, N. J. Gargiulo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Aim. Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) larger than 5.5 cm should generally undergo elective repair. However, some of these patients have serious comorbid conditions, which greatly increase operative risk. This study evaluated the outcomes of nonoperative, observational management and selective delayed AAA repair in high-risk patients with large infrarenal and pararenal AAAs. Methods. Among 226 patients with AAAs >5.5 cm, we selected 72 with AAAs 5.6-12.0 cm (mean 7.0 cm) for periods of nonoperative management because of their prohibitive surgical risks. Comorbid factors included a low ejection fraction of 15-34% (mean 22%) in 18 patients; FEV1 <50% (mean 38%) in 25; prior laparotomy in 10; and morbid obesity in 22. Follow-up was complete in the 72 patients for the 6-76 months (mean 23 months) that they were treated nonoperatively. Fifty-three patients ultimately underwent repair because of AAA enlargement or onset of symptoms after 6-72 months (mean 19 months) of observational treatment. Results. Of the 72 selected patients, 54 (75%) are living and 18 (25%) are dead. Seven patients undergoing only nonoperative treatment presently survive after 28-76 months (mean 48 months). Of the 18 deaths, AAA rupture occurred in only 3 patients (4%) who had been observed for 12, 31, and 72 months before rupture. Nine other deaths (13%) occurred after 6-72 months from comorbidities unrelated to the patient's AAA. Six of the 53 patients undergoing delayed AAA repair died within 30 days of operation (11% mortality). The mortality for the 154 good risk AAA patients, who underwent prompt open or endovascular repair, was 2.2%. Conclusion. These data indicate that some patients with large AAAs and serious comorbidities are acceptably managed for long periods (6-76 months) by non-operative means. Substantial delays of 12 to 76 months resulted in an AAA rupture rate of only 4%, while 13% of these patients (9 of 72) died of their comorbidities unrelated to AAA rupture or surgery and mortality in this group of patients, when operated on, was 11% (6 of 53). These findings support the selective use of nonoperative observational management in some patients with large AAAs and serious comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-464
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


  • Aortic aneurysm, abdominal, surgery
  • Comorbidity
  • Vascular surgical procedures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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