Cause of Death following Surgery for Acute Type A Dissection

R. Scott McClure, Maral Ouzounian, Munir Boodhwani, Ismail El-Hamamsy, Michael W.A. Chu, Zlatko Pozeg, Francois Dagenais, Khokan C. Sikdar, Jehangir J. Appoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Surgery confers the best chance of survival following acute Type A dissection (ATAD), yet perioperative mortality remains high. Although perioperative risk factors for mortality have been described, information on the actual causes of death is sparse. In this study, we aimed to characterize the inciting events causing death during surgical repair of ATAD. Methods: Nine centers participated in the study. We included all patients who died following surgical repair for ATAD between January 2007 and December 2013. An aortic surgeon at each site determined the primary cause of death from seven predetermined categories: cardiac, stroke, hemorrhage, other organ ischemia (peripheral, renal, or visceral), multiorgan failure, sepsis, or other causes. Additional characteristics and variables were analyzed to delineate potential modifiable factors for mortality. Results: Of the 692 surgeries for ATAD, there were 123 deaths (17.8% mortality rate). Mean age at death was 66 years. Events contributing to death were: cardiac (25%), stroke (22%), hemorrhage (21%), multiorgan failure (12%), other organ ischemia (11%), sepsis (4%), and other causes (5%). Neurologic injury at presentation was a predictor of stroke as the inciting cause of death (p = 0.04). Peripheral, renal, or visceral ischemia at presentation was highly predictive of death due to these presenting ischemic conditions (p = 0.004). We found no associations between cardiogenic shock, tamponade, or cardiopulmonary bypass duration and cardiac death. Conclusion: Operative mortality for ATAD remains high in Canada. Nearly 70% of deaths arise from cardiac failure, stroke, or hemorrhage. Therefore, novel surgical, hybrid, and endovascular strategies should target these three areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number05033
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Aorta
  • Aortic dissection
  • Outcomes


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