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The Natural History of Large Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms in Patients without Timely Repair

Contemporary data on the natural history of large abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) in patients undergoing delayed or no repair are lacking. In this study, we examine the impact of large AAA size on the incidence of rupture and mortality. From a prospectively maintained aneurysm surveillance registry, patients with an unrepaired, large AAA (≥5.5 cm in men and ≥5.0 cm in women) at baseline (ie, index imaging) or who progressed to a large size from 2003 to 2017 were included, with follow-up through March 2020. Outcomes of interest obtained by manual chart review included rupture (confirmed by imaging/autopsy), probable rupture (timing/findings consistent with rupture without more likely cause of death), repair, reasons for either no or delayed (>1 year after diagnosis of large AAA) repair and total mortality. Cumulative incidence of rupture was calculated using a nonparametric cumulative incidence function, accounting for the competing events of death and aneurysm repair and was stratified by patient sex. Of the 3248 eligible patients (mean age, 83.6 ± 9.1 years; 71.2% male; 78.1% white; and 32.0% current smokers), 1423 (43.8%) had large AAAs at index imaging, and 1825 progressed to large AAAs during the follow-up period, with a mean time to qualifying size of 4.3 ± 3.4 years. In total, 2215 (68%) patients underwent repair, of which 332 were delayed >1 year; 1033 (32%) did not undergo repair. The most common reasons for delayed repair were discrepancy in AAA measurement between surgeon and radiologist (34%) and comorbidity (20%), whereas the most common reasons for no repair were patient preference (48%) and comorbidity (30%). Among patients with delayed repair (mean time to repair, 2.6 ± 1.8 years), nine (2.7%) developed symptomatic aneurysms, and an additional 11 (3.3%) ruptured. Of patients with no repair, 94 (9.1%) ruptured. The 3-year cumulative incidence of rupture was 3.4% for initial AAA size 5.0 to 5.4 cm (women only), 2.2% for 5.5 to 6.0 cm, 6.0% for 6.1 to 7.0 cm, and 18.4% for >7.0 cm. Women with AAA size 6.1 to 7.0 cm had a 3-year cumulative incidence of rupture of 12.8% (95% confidence interval, 7.5%-19.6%) compared with 4.5% (95% confidence interval, 3.0%-6.5%) in men (P = .002). In this large cohort of AAA registry patients over 17 years, annual rupture rates for large AAAs were lower than previously reported, with possible increased risk in women. Further analyses are ongoing to identify those at increased risk for aneurysm rupture and may provide targeted surveillance regimens and improve patient counseling.

Authors: Lancaster, Elizabeth M; Gologorsky, Rebecca; Hull, Michaela M; Okuhn, Steven; Solomon, Matthew D; Avins, Andrew L; Adams, John L; Chang, Robert W

J Vasc Surg. 2022 01;75(1):109-117. Epub 2021-07-26.

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