An estimated 2 million Americans are living with abdominal aortic aneurysm disease. Treating the disease usually requires open surgery and a long road to recovery.
Doctors at the Avera Heart Hospital are paving the way and have developed a new technique to treat patients. It's called Percutaneous Endovascular Aneurysm Repair or PEVAR for short. Basically, it's an exclusive technique that allows doctors to fix an aneurysm without having to do open surgery.
"The advantage is rather than making a surgical incision to insert the device you actually make a very small nick in the skin and you pre-close it with a special suture closure type device therefore you avoid making a large incision in the groin and it's a much faster recovery." Said Dr. J. Michael Bacharach, a cardiologist with the North Central Heart Institute.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is when the aorta, the largest artery in the body, starts to stretch or balloon out. If it ruptures it's almost always fatal. With the PEVAR procedure doctors can get easy and effective access before it bursts.
"The endograph procedure basically lines the aorta with a new tube so the former sack or aneurismal dilatation is no longer pressurized so it's no longer filling." Said Dr. Bacharach.
For the past two years, Dr. Bacharach has been involved in a clinical trial designed to correct these aneurysms. Placing stent grafts is nothing new but what makes this different is it can all be done through one tiny incision.
"It speeds up the recovery substantially there's a reduced risk of blood loss, a reduced risk of infection at the groin site, and a much speedy recovery so they can get back to doing all their activities in a short period of time just a few days as opposed to a few weeks." Said Dr. Bacharach.
Because patients aren't opened up PEVAR only requires local anesthesia. For doctors the procedure is a game-changer, for extremely sick patients it's a lifesaver.
"It also allows us to treat patients more safely who made have other problems like emphysema or severe obstructive lung disease that could interfere with an anesthetic or those with severe heart disease for example." Said Dr. Bacharach.
In April 2013, the PEVAR procedure received FDA approval. Making the Avera Heart Hospital the only hospital in a 5-state region that is certified to perform the procedure.
"Certainly I'm very proud of the group we have here at the Heart Hospital of South Dakota for participating it's a very nice opportunity for us to participate in some of these research opportunities and I think it does have an impact and shows that even a small center can have a larger and more global impact by participating in these research trials." Said Dr. Bacharach.
This latest endeavor also shows how doctors at the Avera Heart Hospital are perfecting proven techniques and are always looking for new ways to keep hearts beating. For more information about the PEVAR procedure just call 877-AT-AVERA.