With the advent of transesophageal echocardiography, aortic atheromatosis has emerged as an important source of cerebral embolization. Mobile atheromatous plaque in the ascending aorta and aortic arch has been shown to constitute a strong and independent risk factor in patients with stroke. In patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery, it is the single most important contributing factor to perioperative neurologic morbidity. Emboli originating in the heart, aorta, and proximal cerebral vasculature have been observed intraoperatively in patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery, especially when aortic clamps are released. The constitution of these emboli is unclear, although an indeterminate fraction undoubtedly represents dislodged atheromatous material. The impact of such embolization in terms of neurologic outcome is currently under investigation. Prevention of embolization from mobile aortic atheroma in patients undergoing cardiac surgery may require modification of surgical technique. Secondary prevention in patients with a history of embolization can only be determined once the natural history of such lesions is established.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine