(ABC4 UTAH) Surgeons at Intermountain Healthcare are the first in the state to perform a new life-saving heart procedure, called a thoracic branch endoprosthesis, that utilizes new technology that allows them to repair an aneurism in the aortic arch of the heart without having to do major open-heart surgery to make the repair, a much less invasive method.

The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body. It carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body through smaller branched arteries. An aneurysm is a ballooning (thinning and enlarging) of the aorta caused by continuous blood pressure against a weakened area.

Over time an aneurysm may grow, further weakening the wall of the aorta, or it can burst completely causing rupture, which is bleeding inside the body. An aortic dissection is a disease in the thoracic aorta where a small tear occurs in the inner layer of the aortic wall, allowing blood to flow between the layers of the aortic wall.

This new procedure allows the repair to be made and the rerouting of other heart vessels – all the while being done in a hybrid operating room via a catheter. 

Traditionally, to correct this defect in the aorta, cardiac surgeons would have to open the patient’s chest to make the repair, and then re-route those vessels to other vessels so they didn’t lose access to blood flow once the repair was in place.

This new procedure and technology allows the repair to be put in place, and not require the rerouting of the other vessels, all while being done in a hybrid operating room via catheters, which results in shorter procedure times, shorter hospitalizations, and a quicker recovery for patients.  

The new device has a side branch that allows the surgical team to maintain the blood flow of a target great vessel that provides blood flow to the head, neck, or upper extremities. Previously, in order to seal a stent graft in a similar portion of the aorta, surgeons had to first bypass the great vessels via an incision through the chest or neck. That major intervention is no longer needed.​​

“Each patient’s aorta is as unique to them as their personal story. We use this device and other surgical techniques to customize a treatment plan specific to the individual, specifically in patients with thoracic or thoracoabdominal aortic pathology,” said Evan Brownie, a vascular surgeon at the Intermountain Healthcare Center for Aortic Disease at Intermountain Medical Center.

“This is one of many advanced procedures that the comprehensive, multidisciplinary aortic center at Intermountain Medical Center offers to our patients,” added Dr. Brownie.

For more information about aortic heart care at Intermountain, click here.

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