We hypothesized that the extent of aortic atheroma of the entire thoracic aorta, determined by pre-operative multidetector-row computed tomographic angiography (MDCTA), is associated with long-term mortality following nonaortic cardiothoracic surgery. In patients evaluated for cardiothoracic surgery, presence of severe aortic atheroma is associated with adverse short- and long-term post-operative outcome. However, the relationship between aortic plaque burden and mortality remains unknown. We reviewed clinical and imaging data from all patients who underwent electrocardiographic-gated contrast-enhanced MDCTA prior to coronary bypass or valvular heart surgery at our institution between 2002 and 2008. MDCTA studies were analyzed for thickness and circumferential extent of aortic atheroma in 5 segments of the thoracic aorta. A semiquantitative total plaque-burden score (TPBS) was calculated by assigning a score of 1 to 3 to plaque thickness and to circumferential plaque extent. When combined, this resulted in a score of 0 to 6 for each of the 5 segments and, hence, an overall score from 0 to 30. The primary end point was all-cause mortality during long-term follow-up. A total of 862 patients (71% men, 67.8 years) were included and followed over a mean period of 25 ± 16 months. The mean TPBS was 8.6 (SD: ±6.0). The TPBS was a statistically significant predictor of mortality (p < 0.0001) while controlling for baseline demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, and type of surgery including reoperative status. The estimated hazard ratio for TPBS was 1.08 (95% confidence interval: 1.045 to 1.12). Other independent predictors of mortality were glomerular filtration rate (p = 0.015), type of surgery (p = 0.007), and peripheral artery disease (p = 0.03). Extent of thoracic aortic atheroma burden is independently associated with increased long-term mortality in patients following cardiothoracic surgery. Although our data do not provide definitive evidence, they suggest a relationship to the systemic atherosclerotic disease process and, therefore, have important implications for secondary prevention in post-operative rehabilitation programs. Copyright © 2010 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kurra, V., Lieber, M. L., Sola, S., Kalahasti, V., Hammer, D., Gimple, S., … Schoenhagen, P. (2010). Extent of Thoracic Aortic Atheroma Burden and Long-Term Mortality After Cardiothoracic Surgery. JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, 3(10), 1020–1029. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcmg.2010.08.006