Southeast Georgia Health System Physicians First in Georgia to Treat Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms with Innovative New Stent Graft System

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Physicians at Southeast Georgia Health System are the first in the state of Georgia to use an innovative new type of stent graft system that may broaden the group of patients eligible for minimally invasive repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms. To date, three procedures using the new device have been performed at the Health System’s Brunswick Campus by Terry Reynolds, M.D., a board-certified vascular interventional radiologist, and Stephen Kitchen, M.D., a board-certified general surgeon. 
 
The Ovation™ Abdominal Stent Graft System, made by Trivascular, received pre-market approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2012 and was approved for use in Europein August 2010. More than 1,300 patients have been treated worldwide with the Ovation System.
 
An aortic abdominal aneurysm is caused by a weakening of the aorta due to age, disease or other conditions. The aneurysm weakens the wall of the artery--the largest artery that runs through the body--and a bulge develops. Left untreated, the aorta can rupture leading to serious internal bleeding or death.
 
Aortic abdominal aneurysms can be treated by either open surgical repair or by a minimally invasive technique called endovascular aortic repair (EVAR). Open surgical repair involves making an abdominal incision from below the breast bone to the top of the pubic bone and then sewing the graft into the artery above and below the aneurysm. EVAR is minimally invasive compared to open surgical repair.
 
During the procedure, which is usually performed using general anesthesia, Dr. Kitchen makes a small incision in the skin of the groin and exposes the femoral artery. Dr. Reynolds then uses a catheter to guide a stent graft up the patient’s femoral artery and into position within the aorta. The stent graft creates a new pathway for the blood to flow reducing the pressure on the aneurysm and the risk of rupture. Once the stent graft is in place, Dr. Kitchen closes the artery and skin incision. Dr. Kitchen is also standing by in the event that the aneurysm ruptures during the procedure and open surgery is needed immediately.
 
Although other stent graft devices have been available for years, the new Ovation Abdominal Stent Graft System offers several advantages. One is the size which allows the stent graft to be delivered through a smaller diameter catheter compared to other stent devices. Dr. Kitchen also explains that its modular components make it a choice for some patients who previously may not have been candidates for endovascular repair due to the size or curvature of their aneurysm. 
 
Another benefit is a unique sealing technology that utilizes polymer-filled rings to maximize the seal. Dr. Reynolds explains, “I think one of the biggest advantages of this device is the polymer rings that provide a sealant when filled. During the clinical trials, there were no instances of leakages and that is very important.”
 
“Not every stent device is suited for every patient, so we use the best device for the particular aneurysm, but this probably has the most flexibility of any stent device available. We will probably be using it about 90 percent of the time,” Dr. Reynolds says.
 
Dr. Kitchen adds, “I think that structurally, this will be stronger than previous devices we’ve used and therefore, less likely to cause the patient a problem in the future.”
 
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm is often called a silent killer because there are usually no obvious symptoms of the disease. When symptoms are present, they may include:
  • Abdominal pain (that may be constant or come and go)
  • Pain in the lower back that may radiate to the buttocks, groin or legs
  • The feeling of a "heartbeat" or pulse in the abdomen
If you suspect that you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm, you should seek medical treatment immediately.