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VU expands surgical options for patients with aortic aneurysms

May. 23, 2013, 8:33 AM

Vanderbilt University Medical Center recently performed Tennessee’s first fenestrated aortic stent graft surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm that was previously considered too close to the kidney for minimally invasive surgery.

Aortic aneurysms cause a bulging of the aorta, which provides critically needed blood to the body. Without treatment, these aneurysms are at risk of rupturing.

The state’s first patient, 62-year-old John Perkins of Murfreesboro, was discharged the next day. A follow-up visit showed his liver and kidney function, as well as his cholesterol levels, returned to normal.

“All of the doctors and nurses at Vanderbilt were really wonderful. It was a great experience from start to finish,” said Perkins.

Until now, 20 percent to 30 percent of patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms were told their only option was traditional, open surgery for fear the aneurysm was too close to the renal artery and could result in kidney failure. But open surgery comes with increased risks.

The new minimally invasive procedure applies a hand-sewn, custom graft to the dilated aorta to prevent it from rupturing. Using 3-D imaging, the grafts are tailor made for each patient’s unique anatomy.

Each year, 5 percent to 7 percent of people over the age of 60 are diagnosed with abdominal aortic aneurysms, and 15,000 die from them.

These aneurysms typically affect men 60 and older who have a family history of aortic aneurysms, have used tobacco, or have high blood pressure or atherosclerosis.

The procedure has been performed at only a handful of medical facilities throughout the United States, including Vanderbilt.

“This new procedure opens the door to more treatment options and less risk,” said Jeffery Dattilo, M.D., associate professor of Vascular Surgery. “We’re thrilled to offer it to our patients.”

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