The Aortic Team, made up of surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and technologists from UNC Health Care in Chapel Hill, is the first in the country to successfully complete one of the most complex operative procedures involving the vascular system—an endovascular total arch aneurysm repair. This procedure has been accomplished only a handful of times around the world.
Mark Farber, MD, director of both UNC School of Medicine’s Vascular Surgery Fellowship and Aortic Program, and Thomas Caranasos, MD, director of Adult Cardiac Surgery at UNC, conducted a three vessel endovascular repair of a thoracic aortic arch aneurysm with a custom manufactured device. This was made possible through the physician-sponsored investigational device exemption (PS-IDE) study in conjunction with the FDA.
Traditionally, open surgical approach has been required to repair these types of aneurysms and is associated with significant risks given the need for sternotomy and hypothermic arrest. The combined mortality and stroke rate can be as high as 25 percent. The endovascular approach is much less invasive, with a mortality and stroke rate around four percent. It utilized two small incisions in the neck with access from the leg arteries to implant a graft device to the specific diseased locations.
The surgery happened Tuesday and took around three and a half hours. Typical recovery for open surgical repair involves a lengthy hospital stay. With this endovascular procedure patients may be discharged from the hospital within two to three days. The patient in this procedure—80-year-old Ralph Carlson from High Point, North Carolina—is recovering well and is scheduled to be discharged Friday.
“I want to thank the surgeons, nurses, and staff for all the great care I received,” said Carlson. “I am very thankful for Drs. Farber and Caranasos’ extraordinary talent.”
“Procedures of this type would not be possible without all the support from the institution and help of the entire team including the nurses, technicians, physicians, research staff and everyone else involved with the care of the patient,” said Farber.
UNC’s Aortic Program is a part of the heart and vascular care team, which offers procedures and techniques not available at many other hospitals in the nation and the world through the PS-IDE study led by Farber.