November 1, 2003

Surgeons at UNT Health Science Center were the first in Tarrant County to use a new technique called endovascular surgery to repair enlargements in the aorta, the bodyâ??s main artery.

These enlargements, called abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), can rupture if left untreated, causing internal bleeding and requiring emergency surgery. AAAs are the 13th leading cause of death in the United States and one of the leading causes of sudden death in men over age 65, said Burke Delange, DO, assistant professor of surgery and lead endovascular surgeon.

However, if AAAs are detected early and surgically repaired, the risk of a rupture can be eliminated 95 percent of the time, according to the East Carolina University School of Medicine.

The traditional method of repairing these aneurysms requires surgeons to open a patientâ??s abdomen or chest with a large incision and move the organs aside to reach the aorta, Dr. Delange said. â??The traditional method is major, invasive surgery with a long recovery time,â? he said. â??Typically, patients undergoing the standard therapy will spend five to seven days in the hospital, including time in the intensive care unit. It will then take about six to eight weeks for patients to fully recover.â?

â??However, when an aneurysm is repaired using endovascular surgery, two small incisions are made in the upper thigh instead of the large abdominal incision,â? Dr. Delange explained. â??We use a catheter to move a graft, or tube, through the bloodstream to the location of the artery. Once itâ??s in place, tiny hooks on the graft are used to fasten it in place so it reinforces the part of the artery where the aneurysm has occurred.â?

When an aneurysm is repaired using endovascular surgery, patients spend only two days in the hospital and do not need to go to ICU, Dr. Delange said. They usually recover fully in one to two weeks, and some will return to their normal activities even sooner.

â??We want to let patients know that they have options. There is a less invasive alternative to the traditional treatment,â? Dr. Delange said. â??While endovascular surgery may not be right for everyone, patients should certainly explore all their options.â?

To learn more about endovascular surgery and how it is used to treat aneurysms, call 817-735-5450.


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