'Sore Hip' Saved His Life; Advocate Christ Medical Center Able to Repair His Aortic Aneurysm Minimally Invasively

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Advocate Christ Medical Center used a minimally invasive procedure to reach and seal off a life-threatening, 9-centimeter-plus aneurysm on a patient's aorta, after doctors determined a traditional, open surgery would have been too risky. The procedure proved successful, and the patient went home 34 hours after arrival.

I was able to leave the hospital 34 hours later. Amazing! Simply amazing.

A huge, life-threatening aortic aneurysm that was discovered in a patient's abdominal area during an examination of his sore hip, but that proved too risky for traditional surgery, was successfully treated after doctors at Advocate Christ Medical Center used a rather innovative, minimally invasive approach to reach it.

The procedure involved threading a stent from the patient's groin through the arterial system and into the aorta where the stent could be deployed to seal off the aneurysm.

The patient first realized "something was not quite right" when he felt his heart beating through his abdomen while lying on his stomach one day. However, what later drove 66-year-old John Dorgan of Oak Lawn, Ill. to visit his doctor was a sore hip.

“I was having hip pain. So, my physician had images of it taken. In studying these images, he found something else,” Dorgan said. That “something else” proved to be a 9-plus-centimeter aneurysm on Dorgan’s aorta, the body’s largest blood vessel, which carries needed oxygen from the heart to all areas of the body.

An aneurysm occurs when the walls of a blood vessel weaken, causing it to widen or balloon out. “In Mr. Dorgan’s case, the aortic aneurysm was already so large that the chances of it rupturing were 70 percent to 80 percent,” said Wade Wei Kang MD, vascular surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center and the specialist to whom Dorgan was referred following the discovery of his aneurysm. “Had it ruptured, Mr. Dorgan likely would not have survived.”

Because of risks in doing a more standard, open surgery in Dorgan’s case, Dr. Kang took a minimally invasive approach. He compressed a small, metal-mesh-and-fabric tube into a container or sheath about the size of a pen. Making small cuts in the patient’s groin, he threaded this device into Dorgan’s arterial system and moved it up into the aorta and through the area of the aneurysm. Once the device was properly located, he removed the sheath and released the stent, sealing off the aneurysm from above and below. The small groin cuts were sutured shut, and Dorgan was able to leave the hospital the day after the procedure, ready to resume normal, daily activities.

“Dr. Kang told me that, had I undergone an open surgery rather than the minimally invasive procedure, I would have needed about six months of recovery time,” Dorgan said. “Instead, the procedure went so smoothly that I was able to leave the hospital 34 hours after I arrived. Amazing, absolutely amazing!”

“Unfortunately, there are no set signs or symptoms of aortic aneurysm,” Dr. Kang said, indicating that the discovery of Dorgan’s aneurysm during an examination of his hip proved to be a lucky occurrence. “Most people find out that they have an aneurysm only when it ruptures.”

He added that people with a family history of aortic aneurysms are at greater risk for developing them and urged such individuals to get an ultrasound test, which can detect these aneurysms.

“I am back to golfing and shooting hoops with my neighbor – all because I had a sore hip and a great doctor and hospital staff,” Dorgan said.

More information about aortic aneurysms and the procedure used in John Dorgan’s case to correct the problem can be viewed at http://youtu.be/ivatwq7LOBA.

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