Date: 6/16/2001

Community Hospital offers the first new treatment option for abdominal aortic aneurysm in 40 years

-- Minimally-invasive procedure provides alternative to major surgery --

The Community Hospital announced today that it is offering the first new alternative for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) in 40 years, which will offer many patients a minimally-invasive treatment option to open abdominal surgery. The Munster hospital is the only facility in Northwest Indiana and in the adjacent south suburban Chicago suburbs that is now offering this breakthrough technology that has been shown to cut major complications by 50 percent and significantly reduce time spent in the hospital.

The first patient to benefit from this advancement underwent the minimally invasive procedure on Tuesday and was discharged the following day. Assisting with this procedure was a team of specialists, including cardiovascular surgeon J. Michael Tuchek, D.O, cardiologist Michael Nicholas, D.O, and interventional radiologist Thomas J. Maginot, M.D.

“We’re proud to be part of an elite group of institutions trained to perform this new procedure that gives patients and physicians a new option for treating abdominal aortic aneurysms,” said Edward P. Robinson, Administrator of The Community Hospital. “We are especially encouraged by the results of trials showing that this new technology can reduce treatment complications and time of recovery, and increase patient quality of life compared with open abdominal surgery.”
Cardiovascular surgeon J. Michael Tuchek, D.O., who oversaw the first endovascular AAA at Community Hospital last month, has extensive experience performing this surgery. “It is a pleasure to be able to offer Northwest Indiana residents this minimally invasive procedure that will enable patients to recover quicker and resume a better quality of life,” Tuchek said.

Aortic aneurysm is the 13th leading cause of death in the United States, claiming among those lives Albert Einstein, comedienne Lucille Ball and actor George C. Scott. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of the aortic artery that is almost always caused by cellular changes due to arteriosclerosis - the build-up of plaque on the inside of the artery that damages and weakens it. The pressure of the blood flowing through the weakened section of the artery causes the artery to balloon, forming an aneurysm. If the aneurysm is not caught early enough, the weakened aorta can rupture, often resulting in death.

Recently approved by the FDA, the Medtronic AneuRx Stent Graft System that is used at Community Hospital is a modular device that expands to fit and seal the aorta, providing a new path for blood flow and reducing the pressure on the aneurysm. Implanted through a delivery catheter into the femoral artery in the upper thigh, the system is guided through the aorta by a process called fluoroscopy to the location of the aneurysm. In contrast, open abdominal surgery is an invasive procedure, whereby a large incision is made in the abdomen and the aorta is clamped above and below the aneurysm. The aorta then is opened, a surgical graft is sewn in at the diseased site, and the aorta is closed over it.

Potential adverse events associated with endovascular repair are generally less severe than those associated with open surgery. However, they can include vessel dissection and aneurysm rupture due to improper stent graft placement or migration, infection, bleeding, fever or numbness in the legs.

Experts estimate that approximately 1.5 million Americans have an abdominal aortic aneurysm, but only about 200,000 are actually diagnosed each year. In most cases, a person with an abdominal aortic aneurysm has no symptoms. Warning signs can include abdominal or back pain, and the signs of rupture are extreme pain in the lower abdomen and back. During a routine physical exam, physicians may hear a “blowing” murmur or a “whooshing” sound over the aorta. For more information on the newest treatments for abdominal aortic aneurysm, please contact The Heart Center at Community, 219-852-6495.