Clinical Research| Volume 91, P135-144, April 2023

Dying to Get There: Patients Who Reside at Increased Distance from Tertiary Center Experience Increased Mortality Following Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Rupture

Published:December 05, 2022DOI:


      • Retrospective cohort study of prospectively collected linked administrative data.
      • There was a significant increase in mortality at home, mortality prior to operation, and overall 30-day mortality for patients with ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (RAAA) with travel time ≥1 hr (n = 317) to vascular care compared to <1 hr (n = 250).
      • In patients who received an operation (n = 294), there was no association between increased travel time and mortality.


      Centralization of vascular surgery care for Ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (RAAAs) to high-volume tertiary centers may hinder access to timely surgical intervention for patients in remote areas. The objective of this study was to determine the association between distance from vascular care and mortality from RAAAs in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada.


      A retrospective cohort study of all RAAAs in Nova Scotia between 2005 and 2015 was performed through linkage of administrative databases. Patients were divided into groups by estimated travel time from their place of residence to the tertiary center (<1 hr and ≥1 hr) using geographic information software. Baseline and operative characteristics were identified for all patients through available databases and completed through chart review. Mortality at home, during transfer to the vascular center, and overall 30-day mortality were compared between groups using t-test and chi-squared test, as appropriate. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to calculate the independent effect of travel time on survival outcomes.


      A total of 567 patients with RAAA were identified from 2005–2015, of which 250 (44%) resided <1 hr travel time to the tertiary center and 317 (56%) resided ≥1 hr. On multivariable analysis, travel time ≥1 hr from vascular care was an independent predictor of mortality at home (odds ratio [OR] 1.68, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07–2.63, P = 0.02), mortality prior to operation (OR 2.64, 95% CI 1.81–3.83, P < 0.001), and overall 30-day mortality (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.10–2.37, P = 0.02). In patients who received an operation (n = 294), there was no association between increased travel time and mortality (OR 1.02, 95% CI 0.60–1.73, P = 0.94).


      Travel time ≥1 hr to the tertiary center is associated with significantly higher mortality from ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). However, there was no difference in overall chance of survival between groups for patients that underwent AAA repair. Therefore, strategies to facilitate early detection, and timely transfer to a vascular surgery center may improve outcomes for patients with RAAA.
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