The optimal treatment strategy for complex aortic arch and proximal descending aortic pathologies remains controversial. Despite the frozen elephant trunk (FET) technique’s increasing popularity, its use over the conventional elephant trunk (CET) remains a matter of physician preference and outcomes are varied.
This meta-analysis of available comparative studies of FET versus CET sought to examine differences in survival, reintervention, and adverse events. The following databases were searched from inception-May 2020: Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, and The Cochrane Library. Studies retrieved were then screened for eligibility against predefined inclusion/exclusion criteria with a protocol registered on Open Science Framework at https://osf.io/hrfze/.
The search identified 1911 citations, with five studies included. The resultant meta-analysis included 313 CET and 292 FET cases. FET had lower perioperative mortality (risk ratio [RR]: 0.50, 95% confidence interval [CI]: [0.42; 0.60], p < .001) and improved 1-year survival compared to CET (hazard ratio: 0.63, 95% CI: [0.42; 0.95], p = .03). There were no significant differences in rates of overall or open reinterventions following FET versus CET, but FET did yield a significantly higher rate of endovascular reintervention (RR: 2.32, 95% CI: [1.17; 4.61], p = .03). No significant differences were observed in the incidences of postoperative stroke, spinal cord injury, or renal failure between groups.
The FET technique yields superior rates of perioperative and medium-term survival with no significant increase in overall reinterventions. There was no significant difference in the rate of spinal cord injury between groups, providing further large-scale evidence that the FET is an acceptable, safe alternative to the CET.

© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Cardiac Surgery published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.