New surgery shows signs of promise

By John Henretta | Mar 06, 2014
Photo by: Donated photo Dr. John Henretta

Last November, Mike Douglas, MD, and I performed the first two procedures in the United States as part of a national clinical trial, to implant a new device used to correct abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). The device is a new type of endovascular stent-graph to repair AAA. These surgeries took place at Mission Hospital in Asheville. We have performed two more such procedures since, for a total of four. Each of these patients are doing very well with no complications.

Clinical trials such as this allow patients an opportunity to receive care that may otherwise not be available for years to come. As a surgeon, I look forward to where this trial will take us.

Similar devices have already been approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This device allows for a very precise placement and its dual fixation system promises a secure, long-term mechanism to prevent graft migration movement of the repair. Finally, the delivery system is flexible and low profile, thus minimizing trauma to the vessels it traverses crosses during its delivery. That means it is may prove to be a promising and safer option for patients who come to us with AAA.

AAAs occur when the large blood vessel (aorta) that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs weakens and bulges like a balloon. An aneurysm develops over many years and often has no symptoms. The larger the aneurysm, the more likely it will burst and cause massive internal bleeding. Smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, emphysema and high blood pressure are risk factors associated with developing AAA.

Endovascular stent-grafting allows surgeons to repair an aneurysm without making a large incision.  This procedure involves making a small incision or even simply a needle stick where the surgeon inserts catheters (long, thin tubes) that carry the stent-graft through the blood vessels, to the location of delivery. Stent-grafts are designed to tightly seal the aneurysm and allow blood to pass through it without pushing on the bulge. These surgeries generally allow for quicker recovery, with lower risk for complications or death than traditional surgery.

Clinical trials play an important role in medical research, leading to new ways to prevent, detect and treat disease and chronic illnesses. It also establishes Mission as a center of excellence in clinical research.  Mission Health participates in multiple clinical trials every year in a wide variety of medical specialties. Each clinical trial provides Asheville and western North Carolina access to innovative devices and procedures.

Dr. John Henretta is a surgeon at Carolina Vascular. For more information, call 213-9090