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Published on November 24, 2015

Patient’s life saved at UHS in spite of ruptured aneurysm


The rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is a medical emergency - and usually proves fatal. Recently a patient at UHS Wilson not only survived the rupture, but was discharged from the hospital in less than a week.

The patient presented at the Emergency Room with severe pain in his abdomen and back. Preliminary tests showed the location of the aneurysm and the need for emergency repair. The patient was bleeding internally and had low blood pressure. A surgical team quickly assembled, led by UHS vascular surgeon Mark Brennan, DO. Dr. Brennan performed percutaneous endovascular aortic aneurysm repair, a minimally invasive technique that involves inserting a needle through a tiny nick in the groin and channeling a tube carrying a stent into the aorta to restore normal blood flow. The entire operation was completed without any incisions. The patient
stabilized and was discharged from the hospital four days later.

“It’s tremendous for this community that UHS has this state-of-the-art
technology and a well-trained surgical staff that allows us to do these complicated procedures,” Dr. Brennan said. “This patient at one point had no blood pressure and we were able to save his life without making a single cut to his body. No other hospital in this area has done a percutaneous repair of a ruptured aortic aneurysm. It’s just amazing.”

Abdominal aortic aneurysms occur when a part of the aorta bulges due
to weakening in the aortic wall. The condition is most common in men over
age 65 who have a history of smoking and chronic hypertension. When an
aneurysm first begins to develop, most patients don’t have any symptoms.
At that stage, the abnormality can be detected only by medical examination and ultrasound or CT scan. As the aneurysm grows, patients may feel a throbbing in the abdomen, along with pain in the abdomen or back. Depending on the size and location of the aneurysm, healthcare providers may advise a “watch and wait” approach or surgical repair may be recommended. It is very rare to survive a ruptured aorta.

Dr. Brennan encourages those at risk to talk with their provider about a
one-time screening that is available at no charge through the national Screening Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms Very Efficiently Act (SAAAVE).

“An aneurysm can be a ticking time bomb,” he said. “When you have
a family history or you fit the other risk criteria, you should definitely have
the screening, because if we detect an aneurysm early enough, we could save your life. With the technology we are using today at UHS, the surgical repair is less invasive and less painful, and the recuperation time is much faster.”