Aortic Aneurysm Center

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You'll receive expert, comprehensive care for aneurysms from our multidisciplinary team at The University of Kansas Hospital. Our Aneurysm Center provides advanced treatment for aneurysms affecting any part of the body outside of the brain. Neurologists and neurosurgeons on our staff treat brain (cerebral) aneurysms.

An aneurysm is a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel. Pressure from the blood flow can cause the aneurysm to bulge or balloon. Aneurysms that rupture cause internal bleeding that can be fatal.

Aneurysms can occur in any blood vessel in the body, including those in the:

  • Brain
  • Upper body (thoracic aorta)
  • Abdomen (abdominal aorta)
  • Thighs (femoral arteries)
  • Back of the knees (popliteal arteries)

Most aneurysms occur in the aorta, which is the body's main artery that carries blood from the heart. Each year, about 15,000 people in the United States die from ruptured aortic aneurysms. They are the 10th leading cause of death for men over age 50.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of an aneurysm depend on its type, location and whether it has ruptured or is interfering with the body's other organs or functions. Aneurysms can grow for years without symptoms. When present, symptoms may include chronic pain, discomfort or a pulsating sensation in the affected area.

Innovative treatments for aneurysm

Recognized leaders, innovative treatments

A cardiothoracic surgeon at The University of Kansas Hospital developed a new surgical technique to repair aortic arch aneurysms that greatly reduces the risk of brain damage. The procedure, called normothermic antegrade sequential complete arch resection (NASCAR), eliminates the need to lower the body's temperature and stop blood flow to the brain during surgery.

We were the first in the region to repair abdominal and thoracic aneurysms with stent grafts. We also have more experience with stent grafts than any team in the region.

Cardiovascular anesthesiologists on our team are trained and certified in transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). These specialists use TEE to help guide stent placement.

Expertise at every level

Our multidisciplinary team can treat aneurysms in any part of the body outside the brain. Team members are recognized leaders in specialties that include:

Our team also includes dedicated, experienced nurse practitioners, nurses and physician assistants to assure continuity of care.

New graft technique provides option for thoracic aneurysm repair

Heart surgeons and interventional radiologists at The University of Kansas Hospital now perform a new graft technique to repair a thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA). The hospital’s heart team was the first in the region to complete this procedure, as well as the first to perform an abdominal aneurysm stent graft five years ago.

This innovative catheter-based technique is a major advancement for patients suffering from a TAA. It also enables physicians to treat many patients with TAA who are not good candidates for surgery because of lung problems or co-morbidities.

While traditional TAA surgery involves a large incision that runs laterally from the patient’s breastbone to spine, the new procedure only requires a small incision in the patient’s thigh for threading the catheter. Physicians guide the graft through the artery into the chest, then place it at the precise location covering the aneurysm.

Other benefits include:

  • The entire procedure usually takes about 1 hour, compared to 4-6 hours for the traditional open heart aneurysm repair.
  • Most patients go home from the hospital the next day, compared to a hospital stay of 1 week to 10 days. They do not require the intensive care nursing that is standard with TAA surgery.
  • Patients can resume normal activities in 1-2 weeks, compared to a recovery of 4-6 weeks following surgery.
  • Blood loss is cut by 80% compared to the traditional TAA surgery, and patients typically have fewer postoperative complications.
  • The mortality rate of the TAA graft method is one-third the rate of surgery.

The graft is made of Nitinol, an alloy that conforms to the shape of the artery. This is the only device of its type approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The team at The University of Kansas Hospital is uniquely qualified to provide this procedure. It is performed by a heart surgeon who has extensive experience treating TAA open heart cases, rather than by a vascular surgeon. In addition, the interventional radiologist takes part in the procedure so the patient doesn’t need to make a separate visit for staging.