2020 Mar 21. pii: S0022-5223(20)30636-X.



Spinal cord ischemia (SCI) is a devastating complication of thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm repair. We aim to characterize current practices pertaining to SCI prevention and treatment across Canada.


Two questionnaires were developed by the Canadian Thoracic Aortic Collaborative and the Canadian Cardiovascular Critical Care Society targeting aortic surgeons and intensivists. A list of experts in the management of patients at risk of SCI was developed, with representation from each of the Canadian centers that perform complex aortic surgery.


The response rate was 91% for both intensivists (21/23), and from cardiac and vascular surgeons (39/43). Most surgeons agreed that staging is important during endovascular repair of extent II thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (60%) but not for open repair (34%). All of the surgeons felt prophylactic lumbar drains were effective in reducing SCI, whereas only 66.7% of intensivists felt that lumbar drains were effective (P < .001). There was consensus among surgeons over when to employ lumbar drains. A majority of surgeons preferred to keep the hemoglobin over 100 g/L if the patient demonstrated loss of lower-extremity function, whereas most intensivists felt a target of 80 g/L was adequate (P < .001). Management of perioperative antihypertensives, use of intraoperative adjuncts, and management of venous thromboembolism prophylaxis in the presence of a lumbar drain, were highly variable.


We observed some consensus but considerable variability in the approach to SCI prevention and management across Canada. Future studies focused on the areas of variability may lead to more consistent and improved care for this high-risk population.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2020.03.034