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Texas Health Denton First in Area to Offer Incision-free Aortic Aneurysm Repair
09/12/2013

DENTON, Texas — Fifteen years ago individuals with life-threatening abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) faced extensive surgery and up to a week in the hospital with a long recovery period. Today, technology has evolved allowing the surgery to be performed without ever making an incision, which enables the patient to recover more quickly.

Dr. Raul Ortega, FACS, a vascular surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton, is the first physician in the area to perform the AAA incision-free procedure, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration this spring.

“I am proud to offer this latest technique to patients in Denton and the surrounding counties,” Ortega said. “Anytime we can treat patients with more minimally invasive techniques we are able to get them back to their daily activities and health faster.”

Abdominal aortic aneurysms, sometimes called triple A's, are dangerous bulges in the aortic artery, the major pipeline that supplies blood to the lower half of the body. In an AAA, the walls of the artery are pushed out by blood pressure, making it bulge like a weak spot on a worn tire or a balloon that has too much air. When this happens, the artery can eventually rupture.

Because of the large volume of blood that travels through the aorta, a rupture of the aneurysm can be deadly in a matter of minutes. If an aneurysm ruptures, the patient has a 90 percent risk of dying, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Screening is the most important tool we have to prevent death from triple A’s,” Ortega said. “Medicare covers a free screening when adults join Medicare, but many don’t seek out the test. Individuals with heart disease are at a higher risk for AAA and monitoring for aneurysms is our best defense for patients.”

With percutaneous AAA repair, Ortega uses ultrasound to locate the aneurysm and inserts a tiny wire through the skin into the leg artery. He then guides the wire into the abdomen to the site of the aneurysm, using a stent graft to give the artery new shape and strength. The aneurysm is then stabilized to remove the threat of immediate rupture.

Ortega uses a new suturing technique to remove the wire and sheaths that guide the stent insertion during the procedure. The stitches are tied outside the patient, and the knot is slid below the skin’s surface, where the leg artery was accessed. Using this new approach, Ortega can reduce the amount of time spent in the operating room, improve recovery time and lessen complication risk.

A patient’s eligibility for the percutaneous repair depends on his or her arteries.

“Texas Health Denton offers a full complement of heart and vascular services to help individuals in our community obtain high-quality care close to home,” said Stan Morton, hospital president. “We are proud of the ways employees and physicians on the medical staff work together each day to advance the heart and vascular care we offer each of our patients.”

Texas Health Denton offers cardiac imaging, cardiopulmonary care, a cardiovascular care unit, electrophysiology services, echocardiography, coronary angioplasty, open-heart surgical services and cardiac rehabilitation. For more information on the hospital, visit www.TexasHealth.org/Denton.

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton is a 255-bed acute-care, full-service hospital that has served North Texas and southern Oklahoma since 1987. The hospital’s services include: heart and vascular; a Level III neonatal intensive care unit; orthopedics and sports medicine; neck, spine and pain management; emergency medicine; an accredited sleep center; women’s services; and a weight loss surgery program that has been designated a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence. As one of the largest employers in Denton County, Texas Health Denton has more than 900 employees and more than 300 physicians on the medical staff practicing in more than 45 specialties. Texas Health Denton is an accredited chest pain center, and is certified by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center and designated by the State of Texas as a Primary Stroke Facility. Texas Health Denton is an affiliate of Texas Health Resources, one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States. About Texas Health Resources Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States. The health system includes 25 acute care and short-stay hospitals that are owned, operated, joint-ventured or affiliated with Texas Health Resources. It includes the Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial and Texas Health Harris Methodist hospitals, Huguley Memorial Medical Center, Texas Health Physicians Group, outpatient facilities, behavioral health and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education. For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.

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