November 21st, 2006
Institute is DC Metro Area Leader in Thoracic Aneurysm Graft Procedure; Safe Alternative to Open Surgery
Falls Church, VA— Surgeons at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute are currently performing the thoracic aneurysm graft (TAG) procedure to treat patients with potentially deadly aneurysms of the thoracic aorta, the main artery that carries blood in the body. This minimally invasive procedure, an alternative to open surgery, prevents ruptures of thoracic aneurysms and allows patients to recover faster and with fewer complications.
Thoracic aneurysms occur when a section of the aorta weakens and bulges outward like a balloon. This condition can result in a rupture of the aorta, leading to life-threatening internal bleeding.
To strengthen the vessel and relieve pressure that could cause a rupture, surgeons can now insert a self-expanding graft, attached within a catheter, into the bloodstream through a small incision in the groin. Once surgeons thread the graft to the weak part of the aorta, the stent is deployed and expands to create a tight fit and seal against the wall of the aorta. This cuts off the blood supply to the aneurysm and blood flows normally through the stent-graft.
Typically, thoracic aneurysms are managed either medically with blood pressure-lowering drugs to reduce risk of rupture, or by surgical repair. Conventional surgical repair requires a major chest operation in which the aneurysm is replaced by a graft. Such surgery is associated with prolonged hospitalization, post-operative monitoring in an intensive care unit, and a recuperation period of three to six months.
“Having the ability to treat aneurysms with a procedure that is so minimally invasive is a huge innovation,” said Alan Speir, MD, chief, cardiac surgery, Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, Inova Fairfax Hospital. “Patients are able to get home faster from the hospital and recover quickly. We’re also able to treat patients who would not have been eligible for traditional open surgery.”
According to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, approximately 15,000 Americans die of a ruptured aortic aneurysm each year. The aneurysm may be caused by vascular disease, injury, or an inherited defect of the tissue. People who have high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of thoracic aortic aneurysms or who smoke may be at risk. For additional information about thoracic aneurysms, please visit the Inova Health Library web page.
Inova Health System is a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Northern Virginia that consists of hospitals and other health services, including emergency- and urgent-care centers, home care, nursing homes, mental health and blood donor services, and wellness classes. Governed by a voluntary board of community members, Inova’s mission is to improve the health of the diverse community it serves through excellence in patient care, education and research. Inova provides a healthy environment for its patients, families, visitors, staff and physicians by prohibiting tobacco use on its campuses.