Christmas came a few days early last year for retired pastor Reverend Bob Peterson, 75, leader of Joliet’s Bethlehem Lutheran Church. “Pastor Bob” became just the second patient in the nation to receive a new procedure, the minimally invasive Medtronic EndurantTM Stent Graft System, to correct a life-threatening abdominal aortic aneurysm.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm, or AAA, is a place where the aortic artery in the abdomen balloons or bulges out by more than 50%. AAA ruptures are one of the top 20 leading causes of death in the United States. An estimated three million Americans have AAAs and are unaware of it. A triple-A develops slowly, and it can’t usually be found and corrected without an ultrasound or CT scan in the abdominal area. With an AAA, there are no symptoms, and when the aneurysm ruptures, death is almost immediate.
On December 22, two days after the government approved the revolutionary new stent, stent graft surgeon Dr. James M. Tuchek performed the procedure on Pastor Bob at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, one of the busiest heart and vascular centers in the metropolitan area.
The surgery enabled Rev. Peterson to be released the following day and celebrate the Christmas holidays at home in Shorewood with his wife Sandra, their three children, and seven grandchildren.
As well as affecting men (Albert Einstein, Conway Twitty, and George C. Scott, among others), this problem can be lethal to women. Actress and comic Lucille Ball died from an AA aneurysm.
How stent grafts work
Stent grafts have been in use for a number of years. Watching through a high-resolution monitor, the surgeon makes small incisions in the leg so the graft and a tiny camera can be inserted through a blood vessel to the aortic artery below the heart. The doctor uses the camera to position and attach the stent graft inside the artery.
Conventional treatment for AAA is to surgically remove and replace the worn portion of the artery. This procedure involves significant risks and requires a long hospital stay and recovery period.
Other FDA-approved stent grafts are available from different companies. “The difference with the new Endurant,” Dr. Tuchek said, “is that it’s the smallest device available.” The Endurant can be inserted into arteries that are much smaller, and sometimes more diseased, than those accessible by older methods. It also hooks into the arterial wall, making it almost impossible for the device to become dislodged and migrate.
Rev. Peterson’s complex case could not have been handled with any of the conventional types of stent grafts,” Dr, Tuchak pointed out. “I have the benefit of working with an outstanding cardiology department at Provena Saint Joe’s, along with a highly experienced operating room staff. I think we proved that we could use this product to take on and beat even the most complicated anatomy.”
Part of Mokena, Illinois-based Provena Health, a Catholic health system, Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center serves Will and surrounding counties, including the southwest Chicago suburbs. HealthGrades® has recognized Provena St. Joe’s for overall Clinical Excellence for four consecutive years.
PSJMC is also nationally known for advanced cardiac care. Designated as a Primary Stroke Center, PSJMC’s Neuroscience Institute provides the area’s only 24/7 neurosurgeons, neurologists and neurointervention specialists. It has a world-class open heart program, family-centered obstetrics, and a Level II Trauma Center.
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