Antegrade Versus Retrograde Cerebral Perfusion in Aortic Surgery: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 19365 Patients

*Corresponding author: Joseph Lamelas*, Ahmed Alnajar, Michel Pompeu B. O. Sá, Muhammad Z. Azhar, Elizabeth F. Aleong, Jef Van den Eynde and Alexander Weymann

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systematic review


Since the risk of neurological injury and mortality can be mitigated with the appropriate choice of established brain protection strategies, we performed a meta-analysis of studies reporting cerebral perfusion strategy outcomes. Our focus was on surgeries that can be performed through a minimally-invasive approach, to support the decision-making process of adopting surgeons.
We searched the Excerpta Medica dataBASE (EMBASE), Medical literature analysis and retrieval system online (MEDLINE), and Cochrane databases, as well as, Google Scholar, and the reference lists of relevant articles for studies reporting early mortality and/or stroke outcomes of both retrograde cerebral perfusion (RCP) and antegrade cerebral perfusion (ACP) strategies. The principal summary measures were odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) and p values (statistically significant when <0.05). The pooled ORs were combined across studies that met the eligibility criteria. Results We identified and included seventeen eligible studies with a total of 19,365 patients undergoing ascending aorta and arch surgery from 2008-2019 by means of ACP (a total of 10,473 patients) or RCP (a total of 8,892 patients). Random effect model analyses found no increase in mortality (OR=1.03, 95%CI:0.80-1.32) or stroke (OR=1.04, 95%CI:0.81-1.32) associated RCP when compared to ACP (p>0.05).
In ascending aorta and arch surgery, requiring cerebral protection, ACP and RCP have similar rates of early mortality and stroke. While optimal application of cerebral protection strategies is both patient and surgeon specific, surgeons can comfortably adopt RCP in minimally invasive cases after accounting for factors that determine the outcomes of aortic surgery adequately.
Antegrade; Retrograde; Cerebral protection; Aorta and great vessels; Minimally invasive cardiac surgery.