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Jornal Vascular Brasileiro

versão impressa ISSN 1677-5449

J. vasc. bras. vol.9 no.3 Porto Alegre set. 2010 



Endovascular treatment of an abdominal aortic pseudoaneurysm: a case report


Emerson Henrique do NascimentoI; Adaylton Aragão CorreiaII; Vânia Lúcia Cabral RebouçasIII; Stefan de Oliveira SimõesIV; Carmelo Silveira Carneiro Leão FilhoV; Gustavo Tavares Collares da PenhaVI

IVascular and Endovascular surgeon; Member of the Brazilian Society of Angiology and Vascular Surgery (SBACV); Coordinator of Endovascular Surgery at Hospital Universitário Walter Cantídeo of UFC, Fortaleza, CE
IIResident physician of Vascular Surgery at Hospital Universitário Walter Cantídeo da UFC, Fortaleza, CE
IIIVascular surgeon; Member of the SBACV; Head of the Service of Vascular Surgery at Hospital Universitário Walter Cantídeo da UFC, Fortaleza, CE
IVVascular surgeon; Vascular ultrasonographist; Member of SBACV; Head of the Department of Vascular Echography of the Service of Vascular Surgery; Supervisor of the Program of Medical Residence in Vascular Surgery at Hospital Universitário Walter Cantídeo da UFC, Fortaleza, CE
VVascular and Endovascular surgeon; Member of SBACV; Post-graduate student (Master degree) at the Department of Surgery of UFC; Member of the Service of Vascular Surgery of Hospital Universitário Walter Cantídeo da UFC, Fortaleza, CE
VIVascular surgeon; Member of the Service of Vascular Surgery of Hospital Universitário Walter Cantídeo da UFC, Fortaleza, CE





A 17-years-old male student has received several gunshots and was submitted to exploratory laparotomy. After surgery, he complained of pain in the lower limbs and a pulsatile abdominal mass. An abdominal computerized tomography (CT) scan was carried out and revealed an abdominal aorta pseudoaneurysm of about 8 cm in the larger diameter between the celiac trunk and the superior mesenteric artery. An arteriography confirmed the diagnosis and he was submitted to the lesion embolization with cotton suture wires attached to metallic guide wire fragments. After six months, an abdominal aorta Doppler ultrasonography and a new abdominal CT scan were ordered and depicted flow inside the pseudoaneurysm. The patient was then submitted to a new endovascular embolization, and an 18 x 58 mm uncovered stent was placed. After six months from the last procedure, a new abdominal CT scan showed exclusion of the lesion.

Keywords: Aneurysm, false; embolization, therapeutic; aorta, abdominal.


Traumatic abdominal aortic injury is considered to be one of the most fatal among all vascular injuries, accounting for 50 to 78% of the mortality rate. About 30% of the victims are already dead on arrival at the hospital1. The technical advances, the development of new devices and the training of professionals turned the endovascular method into an excellent option for treating vascular injuries when the conventional surgical access is complex or too morbid for a polytraumatic patient2. In this paper, we report a rare case of traumatic abdominal aortic pseudoaneurysm treated by endovascular approach.


Case description

On April 23, 2008, a 17-year-old male student was admitted at a local Hospital with five gunshot wounds (one on the right hand, one on the right arm, two on the occipital region and one on the back). He underwent immediate exploratory laparotomy. At operation, a bilateral retroperitoneal hematoma on zone II was found. Because there was no expansion of the hematoma and also because the patient was hemodynamically stable, the surgeon chose expectant management. In the postoperative period, the patient developed temporary paraplegia, recovering the movements of the lower limbs in a few days. However, he continued to have intense burning pain and sensation of weight on both legs. He was discharged from the hospital and referred to a specialized service for motor rehabilitation, where a Doppler ultrasonography of the aorta and contrast-enhanced computed tomography scan of the abdomen showed an abdominal aortic pseudoaneurysm between the celiac trunk and the superior mesenteric artery, measuring about 8 cm in diameter (Figure 1). He was then referred to our Service on June 5, 2008.



Physical examination at admission revealed a pale young man in good general condition, oriented and cooperative. Cardiac and pulmonary auscultations were normal. The abdomen was flat and symmetric, and had a previous xipho-pubic laparatomy scar, normal bowel sounds and the presence of a pulsatile mass and of epigastric 2+ in 6+ bruit without thrill at palpation. The upper and lower extremities presented normal pulses, without edema. Sensitivity, tonus and muscle strength were slightly reduced in the lower limbs.

On June 6, 2008, the patient was submitted to aortography, which showed an abdominal aortic pseudoaneurysm with its ostium between the origins of the celiac trunk and the superior mesenteric artery, as well as a metallic artifact on the L1-L2 projection (Figures 2A and 2B). On June 9, Seldinger retrograde puncture of the right femoral artery with placement of a 40-cm 6Fr sheath in the aorta was performed, besides selective catheterization of the pseudoaneurysm ostium and embolization with fragments of 0.035 guide wire, tied together with 3.0 cotton thread segments (Figure 3). Control aortography revealed significant reduction of the contrasted area and a small region next to the ostium which maintained discrete contrast flow (Figures 2C and 2D).





On the first post-embolization day, he developed a temperature of 38.4ºC. On the second day, laboratorial exams showed anemia (hemoglobin = 9.56 mg). As the patient was hemodynamically stable and without abdominal pain, the expectant management was the treatment of choice. On the fourth day after embolization, he went through an evaluation by the Neurology Service, which disclosed pain and signs of neurological deficit, probably as a result of the gunshot injury on the cauda equina. The patient was discharged from the hospital and referred to physical therapy and ambulatory follow-up.

On June 30, 2008, he was submitted to a new CT scan; on October 23, to Doppler ultrasound of the abdominal aorta; on October 31, he underwent catheter aortography. All three examinations showed persistent flow into the aneurysmal sac. On October 29, he was submitted to a new embolization by means of puncture of the right and left femoral arteries and introduction of 10Fr and 6Fr sheaths, respectively. Embolization was performed with 10 fibrous coils, and guide wire segments were tied together with 3.0 cotton thread after the insertion of an uncovered self-expansible nitinol stent (18 x 58 mm) on the aorta, aiming at remodeling the ostium of the pseudoaneurysm and retaining the embolization material within the sac. The post-procedure arteriography did not show contrast in the aneurysm sac (Figures 4A and 4B). On the second postoperative day, he was discharged without complaints, without pulsatile abdominal mass and murmur. The patient is currently on follow-up with abdominal CT scans every six months, which have shown absence of flow in the pseudoaneurysm.




Penetrating trauma is the most common cause of abdominal aortic injury. Thoracoabdominal vessel injuries are associated with high pre-hospital and hospital mortality rates3. In about 18% of the cases, bleeding is contained on the retroperitoneum and the patients are normotensive at admission4. Abdominal trauma may manifest as free intraperitoneal hemorrhage or as a contained retroperitoneal hematoma (pseudoaneurysm)5.

By definition, a pseudoaneurysm is a tense, pulsatile and expansive hematoma. Also called "traumatic aneurysm", it arises when three layers of the artery are lacerated or ruptured, determining blood leakage through the laceration, without flow interruption inside the blood vessel. The surrounding tissues restrain the hematoma and a pseudocapsule is formed around the arterial wall. Its continuous expansion may cause complications due to the compression and inflammatory process on neighboring structures (veins, hollow organs and nerves) and, finally, rupture of the pseudoaneurysm, with severe hemorrhage, hypovolemic shock and death6.

Our patient, who suffered gunshot wounds, presented a pseudoaneurysm in the region described as zone II (retroperitoneal region, involving kidneys and renal vessels)4. Hematomas in this region increase the suspicion of renal vessel lesion, which was not confirmed in this case. As a general rule, retroperitoneal hematomas resulting from penetrating traumas require exploration of the adjacent kidney (Huey Long rule)7, except when it is a stable perirenal hematoma in a patient whose preoperative CT scan does not show urine extravasation or in case of stable retro-hepatic hematoma5. The prognosis of penetrating abdominal aortic injuries is significantly better than that of thoracic aortic injuries, probably because the retroperitoneal tissues contain the hemorrhage4.

The intervention technique may be electively selected for patients who are hemodynamically stable and present with traumatic pseudoaneurysm8. In the last decades, endovascular techniques have been more often used for the management of traumatic lesions9. Since 1972, when Margolies et al. performed the embolization of a traumatic hemorrhage10, the techniques and materials used in endovascular embolization have shown excellent results with minimal invasion.

Catheter embolization is indicated for injuries of inaccessible arteries11. In this case, the pseudoaneurysm was located between the celiac trunk and the superior mesenteric artery, an area of difficult access by conventional surgical techniques, especially concerning proximal and distal vessel control.

The factors that influenced the choice of endovascular technique in the reported case were:

1. young patient (18 years old);

2. hemodynamic stability;

3. topography of the injury (difficult surgical access);

4. peritoneal cavity with previous approach (with possible adhesions between organs);

5. forty-five days with hematoma on the retroperitoneum (likely necessity of fibrous areas' dissection12).

The embolization materials may be fluid or solid. As examples, one may mention: clots with or without additives, absorbable gelatin sponge, liofilized dura mater, particles of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), microspheres (acrylic copolymer with porcine gelatin), polymerized glue, ejectable or detachable coils covered or not with thrombogenic synthetic fibers, detachable or non-detachable balloons and tampon-like occlusion devices8. In this patient, we used embolization devices (fragments of 0.035 guide wire + segment of 3.0 cotton wire) in order to occlude the pseudoaneurysm, which was partially achieved on the first embolization and completed through embolization with fibrous coils and apposition of uncovered stent.

Uflacker reports that the first model of coils for embolization was made of guide wire segments without the inner wire, mechanically twisted, with a wadding of wool on its extremity. After the development of the Gianturco coils, the necessity for materials for occlusion of large-caliber vascular systems, arteriovenous fistulas and aneurysm has raised. The same author described 100% of success in the occlusion of large-caliber vessels using artisanal large springs for embolization that were 20 cm long, and Dacron® thread wadding attached to it, on 3-cm intervals. These modified guide wire segments were used to treat high-debt and large-caliber arteriovenous fistulae. This material was described as 10 to 15-cm guide wire with the flexible inner wire removed, but with its shape irregularly modified, angled or twisted to wad in the interior of the vessel13.

The stent was used to obtain a better remodeling of the pseudoaneurysm neck, which became larger due to the amount of embolization material injected in its interior. Besides that, it also had the function of avoiding the migration of this material to the aortic lumen. In this patient, a stent a little larger than necessary was used (18 x 58 mm), once it was the only stent available in our hospital that was compatible with the procedure.

Hospital discharge two days after the procedure and without complaints demonstrates the efficacy of the method in managing the injury and reducing the postoperative morbidity.

We conclude that the endovascular method for embolization of traumatic injuries (pseudoaneurysm) was successful in the reported case and that, in selected patients, this technique may be the first therapeutic option, thus increasing the range of vascular trauma treatments.



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2. Aun R, Puech-Leão P, Netto BM. Lesões vasculares traumáticas e iatrogênicas: tratamernto endovascular. In: Brito CJ. Cirurgia vascular: cirurgia endovascular, angiologia. 2ad ed. Rio de Janeiro: Revinter; 2008. p. 1461-67.         [ Links ]

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6. Rich NM. Revisão histórica das fístulas arteriovenosas e dos pseudoaneurismas traumáticos. In: Rich NM, Mattox KL, Hishberg A, editores. Trauma vascular, 2ª ed., Rio de Janeiro: Dilivros; 2006. p. 483-551.         [ Links ]

7. Feliciano DV. Lesões da aorta abdominal e das artérias viscerais. In: Rich NM, Mattox KL, Hishberg A, editores. Trauma vascular, 2ª ed., Rio de Janeiro: Dilivros; 2006. p. 315-29.         [ Links ]

8. Araujo AP, Gomes CFA, C FM. Embolização terapêutica. In: Brito CJ. Cirurgia Vascular: cirurgia endovascular, angiologia, 2ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Revinter; 2008. p. 1469-93.         [ Links ]

9. Tucker S Jr, Rowe VL, Rao R, Hood DB, Harrell D, Weaver FA. Treatment options for traumatic pseudoaneurysms of the paravisceral abdominal aorta. Ann Vasc Surg. 2005;19(5):613-8.         [ Links ]

10. Starnes BW, Arthurs ZM. Endovascular management of vascular trauma. Perspect Vasc Surg Endovasc Ther. 2006;18(2):114-29.         [ Links ]

11. Sclafani SJA. Radiologia diagnóstica e intervencionista no trauma vascular. In: Rich NM, Mattox KL, Hishberg A, editores. Trauma vascular. 2ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Dilivros; 2006. p. 191-218.         [ Links ]

12. Aun R, Saliture-Neto FT, Lederman A, Waksman H. Tratamento endoluminal de aneurismas anastomóticos na aorta abdominal: relato de dois casos. J Vasc Bras. 2006;5(1):58-62.         [ Links ]

13. Uflacker R. Técnicas e materiais de embolização – complicações. In: Uflacker R, editor. Radiologia intervencionista. São Paulo: Sarvier; 1987. p. 29-63.         [ Links ]

Adaylton Aragão Correia
Rua Vilebaldo Aguiar, 1.580, apto. 402 – Papicu
CEP 60190-780 – Fortaleza, CE

Received on Feb 6, 2010. Accepted on Apr 12, 2010.



Authors' contributions
Study conception and design: EHN and AAC
Data analysis and interpretation: EHN, AAC and SOS
Data collection: AAC, CSCLF and GTCP
Writing of the paper: EHN, AAC and GTCP
Critical analysis: EHN, AAC, SOS and VLCR
Final text approval*: EHN, AAC, SOS, VLCR, CSCLF and GTCP
Statistical analysis: N/I
Overall responsibility: EHN and AAC
Financing information: N/I
*All authors have read and approved the final version of the paper submitted to the J Vasc Bras.
Study carried out at the Service of Vascular Surgery of Hospital Universitário Walter Cantídeo, Universidade Federal do Ceará (UFC), Fortaleza, CE, Brazil.
No conflict of interest was declared concerning the publication of this article.

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