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Summary

Patients presenting with vascular emergencies including acute aortic syndrome, ruptured thoracic or abdominal aortic aneurysms, thoracic aortic trauma and acute lower limb ischaemia have a high risk of peri-operative morbidity and mortality. Although anatomical suitability is not universal, endovascular surgery may improve mortality and the results of ongoing randomised controlled trials are awaited. Permissive hypotension pre-operatively should be the standard of care with the systolic blood pressure kept to 50–100 mmHg as long as consciousness is maintained. The benefit of local anaesthesia over general anaesthesia is not definitive and this decision should be tailored for a given patient and circumstance. Cerebrospinal fluid drainage for prevention of paraplegia is often impractical in the emergency setting and is not backed by strong evidence; however, it should be considered postoperatively if symptoms develop. We discuss the pertinent anaesthetic issues when a patient presents with a vascular emergency and the impact that endovascular repair has on anaesthetic management.