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Hospital reaches another milestone with first AAA procedure

Bolingbrook, IL – A team of specialists at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital recently completed the hospital’s first abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair on a local patient who is part of a national clinical trial. New technology allowed the team to perform an endovascular stent graft repair as an alternative to the traditional invasive open surgical repair. The hospital is one of about 70 in the United States taking part in the PIVOTAL study, a clinical trial based at Cleveland Clinic.

Drs. Francis Facchini and Luke Sewall, interventional radiologists, and Dr. Michael Tuchek, a cardiothoracic surgeon, treated 76-year-old Bradford McFarland May 30 at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital. Facchini, Sewall and Tuchek have performed a combined 1,500 endovascular repairs. McFarland’s procedure took about an hour. He was released from the hospital a day later and is now recovering at his Willowbrook home.

“As one of only three suburban Chicago hospitals performing abdominal aortic aneurysm repairs as part of the PIVOTAL trial, we are proud to offer this unsurpassed level of care to our community,” said Rick Mace, chief executive officer at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital.

McFarland’s road to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital began two years ago when doctors discovered his aneurysm while performing bypass surgery and an aorta heart valve replacement. An aneurysm is a bulge or balloon that forms in the wall of a blood vessel and is most commonly a result of an accumulation of fatty deposits on the vessel wall. Many people live with smaller aneurysms for years without complications. But when an aneurysm grows, there’s a greater chance it will rupture or burst, requiring immediate medical treatment.

In the past, patients like McFarland had two difficult options: wait and hope for the best or undergo major open surgical repair. But now many patients are able to undergo a relatively new procedure called endovascular stent grafting, which is less invasive but just as effective as open abdominal surgery and reduces the risk of major complications by half. A woven polyester tube (graft) covered by a tubular metal web (stent) is inserted into the body through the femoral artery via small groin incisions. 

“An abdominal aortic aneurysm is like a ticking time bomb,” Facchini said. “By performing an endovascular repair as an alternative to open surgical repair, we can use the latest technology to save the lives of many people affected by abdominal aortic aneurysmal disease.”

Doctors have typically delayed repair of aneurysms until they reach a diameter of 5 cm because there have been no clinical studies demonstrating the benefit of this type of therapy for smaller aneurysms. The goal of the PIVOTAL (Positive Impact of EndoVascular Options for Treating Aneurysms earLy) study is to determine whether it is appropriate to treat aneurysms that are 4 to 5 cm in diameter. McFarland became eligible for the trial when his aneurysm reached 4.5 cm in diameter. He also is one of less than 500 patients in the United States treated using Medtronic’s Talent abdominal stent graft system, approved by the Food and Drug Administration April 16. Tuchek placed the first Talent abdominal stent graft ever used in the U.S.

“Mr. McFarland’s procedure truly was a team effort,” Tuchek said.

Present in an estimated 1.2 million people and responsible for approximately 15,000 deaths annually in the United States, an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a dangerous bulge or weakening of the body’s main artery that can rupture with fatal consequences if left untreated. Ruptured AAAs are currently the 10th leading cause of death among U.S. men over age 55; comedian Harvey Korman, of “The Carol Burnett Show,” died May 29, four months after suffering complications from the rupture of his abdominal aortic aneurysm.

But early detection through painless ultrasound screening and endovascular repair have historically shown a significant improvement in the survival rate for patients of all ages. President Bush signed legislation making AAA screening a part of the “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam.

“I’m walking around and expect to be back to my old self soon,” McFarland said.

For more information on the PIVOTAL trial or the Talent Abdominal Stent Graft, visit www.medtronic.com. To schedule an AAA screening, call (630) 856-7070 or visit www.keepingyouwell.com.

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Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.  To find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.