The treatment of complex pathologies of the aortic arch and proximal descending aorta represents a significant challenge for cardiac surgeons. Various surgical techniques and prostheses have been implemented over the past several decades, all with varying degrees of success. The introduction of the frozen elephant trunk (FET) technique facilitates one-stage repair of such pathologies. The present systematic review and meta-analysis aims to assess the safety and efficacy of the FET approach in the current literature.
Electronic searches were performed using six databases from their inception to July 2013. Relevant studies utilizing the FET technique were identified. Data were extracted and analyzed according to predefined clinical endpoints.
Seventeen studies were identified for inclusion for qualitative and quantitative analyses, all of which were observational reports. Pooled mortality was 8.3%, while stroke and spinal cord injuries were 4.9% and 5.1% respectively. Cardiopulmonary bypass time, myocardial ischemia time, and circulatory arrest time strongly correlated with perioperative mortality in a linear relationship, while moderate correlations between cerebral perfusion time and mortality, and circulatory arrest time and spinal cord injury, were also identified. Five-year survival, reported in five studies, ranged between 63-88%.
Overall, results of the present systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that the FET procedure can be performed with acceptable mortality and morbidity risks.