Newest Procedure to Repair Aneurysms


Approximately one in every 250 people over the age of 50 will die of a ruptured abdominal aortoiliac aneurysm, according to the Society of Interventional Radiology. With few to no symptoms, an enlarged aneurysm can go undetected until it leaks or bursts, causing life-threatening bleeding.  In the world of vascular surgery, an enlarged aneurysm is known as the "silent killer.”

One alternative to open surgery, Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR) has become the choice method of stopping erratic blood flow from a leaking aneurysm.

This minimally-invasive procedure involves passing a collapsed graft up from the groin area of the leg to the weakened aorta. Similar to balloon angioplasty, the graft is then inflated to restore normal blood flow.

Vascular Surgeon, Christopher LaGraize, M.D., now fine tunes the EVAR in a first-of-its-kind, minimally invasive procedure called "snorkel.”  The flexible stent is run through the inner arm and guided parallel to the EVAR stent. This creates a new channel for blood flow, preventing leakage. The aneurysm is sectioned off while blood flow is preserved to the pelvic vessels.

In March, Dr. LaGraize performed the first snorkel procedure in Acadiana on an elderly woman at Lafayette General Medical Center. "Normally, open surgery would have taken about three hours.  The patient would have spent a few days in the Intensive Care Unit and then stayed in the hospital for another five days,” he says.

"The snorkel procedure took about one and a half hours and the patient went home the next day to resume normal activities.” The patient has recovered pain free and without difficulties.  Follow-up scans showed that she has maintained blood flow to the pelvic vessels.

This new technique expands the ability to treat patients with aneurysms that otherwise would have required open surgery.  Since that initial procedure, Dr. LaGraize has performed additional "snorkel” procedures with similar results.

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