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Health Team

Endografts Repair Aneurysms Quickly

Posted June 11, 2007 4:47 p.m. EDT
Updated June 11, 2007 6:49 p.m. EDT

— A new technique to repair aneurysms reduces the risk of surgery and gets patients back to normal health more quickly than existing procedures.

An aneurysm is a ballooning of an artery. If one bursts, it can be fatal. Open surgery is the standard way to fix the problem, but it's a risky procedure.

Since aneurysms present no symptoms until they burst, most are found in X-ray scans while physicians are looking for other problems, said Rex Hospital vascular surgeon Dr. Chris Longo.

"When it bursts, it can be life-threatening, and the aorta being the largest artery of the body, most ruptures are lethal," Longo said.

Standard open surgery can be risky, so Longo now offers patients a minimally invasive option called an endograft. The flexible metal stent is covered with a waterproof layer of Gortex.

"What an endograft does is it excludes the aneurysm. You can put the endograft through a small incision in the leg. Place it through the arterial system and deploy it on the inside of the artery," Longo said.

Compared to open surgery, the endograft procedure reduces the risk of death by one-sixth, reduces the risk of spinal cord injury by  a fifth and reduces blood loss by more than 90 percent.

Also, recovery from open surgery is measured in months, while endograft patients are back to their normal routine in a couple of weeks.

"The surgery was performed on Thursday and I went home on Saturday, and within a week or 10 days, I was back outside walking," said Wiley Nance, who recently had a primary and a smaller secondary aneurysm repaired with endografts.

Nance only needs to have the endograft checked for possible leaks once a year.

Longo recommended that people age 65 or older undergo ultrasound screening to help detect aneurysms. But not all insurance plans cover the cost of routine screening.