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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Aortoesophageal Fistula: A Fatal Complication of Thoracic Endovascular Aortic Stent-Graft Placement

Challenging differential diagnosis, Diagnostic / therapeutic accidents, Rare disease

Muhammad Shabbir Rawala, Varun Badami, Syed Bilal Rizvi, Aravinda Nanjundappa

USA Department of Internal Medicine, West Virginia University (WVU) – Charleston Division, Charleston, WV, USA

Am J Case Rep 2018; 19:1258-1261

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.911441

Available online: 2018-10-23

Published: 2018-10-23


BACKGROUND: Hemetemesis is rarely caused by an aorta-esophageal fistula with thoracic aorta aneurysm in patients. This uncommon etiology, AEF/TAA, can potentially rupture and cause death if left untreated. Thoracic endovascular aorta repair places a stent-graft to seal the aneurysm and cover the fistulous track. Open surgical repair is associated with high risk of morbidity and mortality; therefore, TEVAR is a much safer alternative to it. However, recurrent or persistent infection remains a major concern with TEVAR for AEF.
CASE REPORT: We present a rare case of an 80-year-old woman who presented with complaints of hemetemesis and epigastric pain. The patient underwent a computerized tomography scan, highlighting a TAA and AEF. A stent was placed in the descending thoracic aorta via endovascular approach and a subsequent EGD was negative for any residual bleeding. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was isolated from the patient’s sputum cultures and she was treated with a prolonged course of antibiotics. She presented to the hospital a few weeks later with new-onset hematemesis. Workup identified an AEF. The patient was high risk for open surgical repair due to her comorbid conditions; therefore, an esophageal stent was placed. She was diagnosed with AEF secondary to an infected endovascular thoracic aorta stent.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients who are high risk for open surgical repair from immediate rupture of TAA with AEF can benefit from use of the TEVAR approach. The stent itself is a foreign body; therefore, the risk of infection persists. AEF is a rare but potentially fatal complication of the infected thoracic aortic stent itself.

Keywords: aortic aneurysm, Esophageal Fistula, Hematemesis