News Release: Research

Sep. 29,  2008

New Life-Saving Device Treats Aortic Aneurysms

Emory University Hospital is using an innovative new medical device for the minimally invasive treatment of aortic aneurysms, dangerous bulges or weaknesses in the body's largest artery that can rupture with fatal consequences if left untreated.

The new stent, recently approved by the FDA, makes endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) accessible to an additional 25 percent of all patients with thoracic aortic aneurysms.

Karthikeshwar Kasirajan, MD, assistant professor of surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine is among the first few physicians in the United States and the first in Georgia to use the new device.

"This is an exciting advancement in endovascular treatment that we are proud to offer patients in Atlanta and around the region," says Kasirajan. "It allows us to treat more aortic aneurysm patients than ever using a non-invasive method that gets our patients back on their feet within days, rather than weeks compared to open surgical repair."

Thoracic aneurysms affect 10 out of every 100,000 older Americans, and data suggests this rate is steadily increasing. Common among smokers and those with a strong family history, thoracic aortic aneurysms often result from weakening of the arteries, hypertension or congenital disorders such as Marfan's syndrome. Preventive measures include smoking cessation, controlling blood pressure and blood lipid levels, and routine exercise. Detection of thoracic aortic aneurysms is most commonly achieved through computed tomography (CT) scans.

Treatment for aortic aneurysms involves either invasive open surgical repair in which the body is opened and major organs temporarily moved to access the aorta or the minimally invasive approach with stent grafts.

In this approach, two small incisions are made in the groin and the device is inserted through the femoral artery to reach the aneurysm. By creating a new pathway for blood flow, the stent graft reduces pressure on the aneurysm and, as a result, the risk of rupture.

"We have better options for treating options than ever before, but we can only treat the aneurysms we know about," says Dr. Kasirajan, a pioneer in the treatment of EVAR. "People with known risk factors should get screened. The decision to be screened could be a life-saving choice."

However, some patients have not been eligible for this less-invasive option due to complications of their anatomy and the limitations of earlier devices.

The new stent grafts, called Talent™ Thoracic Stent Graft and manufactured by Medtronic, make EVAR accessible to more aortic aneurysm patients because of their unique features. These features include a wide range of diameters, which offer physicians multiple options to customize the devices for their patients' needs and to treat a wider range of aortic anatomies than with other available stent grafts.

In clinical studies, EVAR has been shown to be an effective therapy for aortic aneurysms, with fewer postoperative complications and shorter recovery times than open surgical repair. A study published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine - Jan. 31, 2008 - indicates that perioperative mortality was significantly lower after EVAR than after open repair for abdominal aortic aneurysms. The Emory Heart & Vascular Center is committed to providing clinically excellent cardiovascular patient care, promoting overall heart health, pioneering innovative clinical research and training the best heart specialists in the world. The Center is consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top heart and cardiovascular health centers in the country. In addition, many of Emory's cardiologists and surgeons are recognized as Atlanta's Top Doctors by Atlanta Magazine and as America's Top Doctors. As the largest, most comprehensive health care system in Georgia, Emory Healthcare has 1,184 licensed patient beds, 9,000 employees and more than 20 health centers located throughout Metro Atlanta.

For more information, please contact Emory Health Connections at 404-778-7777 or 1-800-75-Emory-7.


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