Background. Despite improvements in emergency medical services, surgical technology, and postoperative critical care, ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is associated with constantly high morbidity and mortality. To determine the effect of the duration of symptoms, transport time to hospital, and length of emergency department assessment on outcome, we evaluated 124 consecutive patients with ruptured AAA treated during the past decade. Methods. The medical records for 122 patients were abstracted for preoperative hypotension, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), blood loss, and three time intervals: symptom onset to operation, transport time to hospital, and emergency department assessment. Results. Intraoperative mortality was 26% (n = 32), 30-day mortality was 51% (n = 63), and cumulative hospital mortality was 56% (n = 69). Death occurred in 52 (64%) of 81 patients with hypotension compared with 14 (35%) of 40 patients without hypotension (p ≤ 0.01). Hypotension was present in 37 (82%) of 45 patients who arrived in the operating room in 2 hours or less compared with 26 (60%) of the 43 patients who arrived later than 2 hours (p ≤ 0.05). Death followed in 21 (91%) of 23 patients who received CPR compared with 46 (46%) of 99 patients who did not receive CPR (p ≤ 0.01). Bowel ischemia was observed in 18 (30%) of 60 patients who received more than 10 units of blood compared with 3 (5%) of 61 patients who received 10 units or less (p ≤ 0.01). Conclusions. For patients with ruptured AAA, prolonged presurgical time was associated with a more hemodynamically stable patient and a lower mortality. Progressive bleeding in those hemodynamically stable patients was reflected by a larger blood transfusion requirement. Such patients exhibited an increased incidence of ischemic bowel complications, perhaps caused by splanchnic arterial ischemia augmented by preexisting atherosclerosis, as well as extrinsic compression by mesenteric hematomas.
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