To test a strategy for minimizing ischemic spinal cord injury (SCI) following extensive thoracoabdominal aneurysm (TAAA) repair, we occluded a small number of segmental arteries (SAs) endovascularly one week before simulated aneurysm repair in an experimental model.
30 juvenile Yorkshire pigs (25.2±1.7kg) were randomized into three groups. All SAs—intercostal and lumbar—were sacrificed by a combination of surgical ligation of the lumbar SAs and occlusion of intercostal SAs with thoracic endovascular stent grafting (TEVAR). 7–10 days before this simulated TAAA replacement, SAs in the lower thoracic/upper lumbar region were occluded using embolization coils: 1.5±0.5 SAs in Group 1 (T13/L1), and 4.5±0.5 in Group 2 (T11-L3). No SAs were coiled in the controls. Hind limb function was evaluated blindly from daily videotapes using a modified Tarlov score: 0=paraplegia; 9=full recovery. After sacrifice, each segment of spinal cord was graded histologically using the 9-point Kleinman score: 0=normal, 8=complete necrosis.
Hind limb function remained normal after coil embolization. After simulated TAAA repair, paraplegia occurred in 6/10 control pigs, but only 2/10 pigs in Group 1: no pigs in Group 2 had SCI. Tarlov scores were significantly better in Group 2 (Control vs 1 p=0.06; Control vs 2 p= 0.0002; 1 vs 2 p=0.05). A dramatic reduction in histologic damage—most prominently in the coiled region—was seen when SAs were embolized before simulated TAAA repair.
Endovascular coiling of 2–4 SAs prevents paraplegia in an experimental model of extensive hybrid TAAA repair, and helps protect the spinal cord from ischemic histopathological injury. A clinical trial in a selected patient population at high risk for postoperative SCI may be appropriate.