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Sharp Health News

Procedure for aortic aneurysm offers rapid recovery

Nov. 30, 2015

Fenestrated grafts

In the United States, 15,000 people die each year from aortic aneurysms, which result from a weakened section of the artery wall. In abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), pressure from inside the artery increases the risk that the aorta will rupture and lead to internal bleeding — and possibly death — if not treated immediately. Patients most at risk are those over age 65 with a history of smoking, lung disease or a family history of aortic aneurysms.

For the 1 in 5 AAA patients who are not considered appropriate candidates for conventional treatment, a new and minimally invasive procedure called fenestrated endograft implantation is now available.

Dr. Scott Musicant, a vascular surgeon affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, is blazing the technology trail by performing an uncommon procedure for this complex condition.

“We are very fortunate to have a dedicated endovascular team with an incredible amount of experience here at Sharp Grossmont,” says Dr. Musicant. “This allows us to perform truly state-of-the-art techniques. Just a couple of years ago, this would have required transferring patients to another part of the country for their care.”

Specially designed stents made to fit each patient

This custom-made stent is revolutionizing aortic aneurysm repair. Dr. Musicant has performed seven endograft procedures this year with excellent results. He is currently the only surgeon in San Diego County certified to perform these procedures. Fewer than three dozen surgeons in the U.S. perform this treatment, which uses custom-manufactured grafts made using 3-D computer models generated from a patient’s spiral CT scan.

When an aortic aneurysm involves arteries that branch off toward the kidneys, conventional treatment — such as open surgery — may not be ideal. Fenestrated stent grafts, however, are custom-made to the precise size of each patient’s aorta to accommodate branched arteries and maintain kidney circulation.

Patients treated with fenestrated endografts typically spend just one day in the hospital and one week recovering, compared to seven to 10 days in the hospital and three to six months of recovery with open surgery. There is a decreased risk of stroke, paraplegia, heart attack and death with this less-invasive approach.

Doctors require patients to undergo long-term surveillance with periodic CT scans to detect and treat problems before they become life-threatening.

With this type of follow-up care as an added bonus, this valuable technology is a win-win for vascular patients who now have access to this advanced procedure in their own backyards.

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