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A Journal on Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery

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The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2004 April;45(2):153-7

language: English

Ruptured pancreaticoduodenal artery aneurysm. A case report and review of the literature

Buresta P., Freyrie A., Paragona O., D’Addato M.

Department of Vascular Surgery University Hospital S. Orsola, Bologna, Italy


Pancreaticoduodenal artery aneurysms (PDAA) are very rare (2% of the visceral aneurysms) but characterized by a high mortality rate if ruptured. Here a case of ruptured PDAA with an atypical clinical presentation that simulated an acute hepatobiliar syndrome is reported. A 60-year-old female presented with epigastric pain, nausea, gastric vomiting, elevated levels of hepatic enzymes, normal hemoglobin and cholelithiasis on echography. With persistent pain and progressively decreasing hemoglobin, an urgent contrast computed tomography was performed and revealed a large retroperitoneal hematoma that appeared to come from a branch of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA). A selective SMA-angiography showed a small aneurysm of the antero-superior pancreaticoduodenal artery with signs of hemorrhage. The patient underwent surgical ligature of the PDAA, after superselective transcatheter arterial embolization appeared technically impossible. The postoperative period was characterized by a progressive normalization of the hepatic values and hemoglobin and a post-operative angiogram confirmed the total exclusion of the PDAA and the integrity of the posterior pancreaticoduodenal arch. The pre-operative diagnosis of PDAA is usually very difficult. Symptoms can be vague or misleading, as in our case. Angiography is the most accurate diagnostic tool to locate a ruptured PDAA. Moreover, it can be immediately used for urgent endovascular treatment. Post-operative angiography is essential to confirm the total exclusion of the PDAA and demonstrate visceral circulation.

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