New FDA-approved aortic technology could help save lives

MURRAY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - New medical technology could save the lives of more people with traumatic heart problems. Previously, cardiologists would have to do open-heart surgery if someone suffered with an aortic disease. About two months ago, the FDA approved a new device to provide an emergency operation that’s less invasive and easier on the doctor and patient.

Aortic disease includes aneurisms, tears of the aorta, ulcerations, or bruising. Those procedures need urgent attention because they’re life-threatening. But a new tool now in use at Utah's Intermountain Medical Center, from Medtronic, an endovascular stent graph, could literally mean the difference between life and death.

“If you don't have a heart that works, you won't have a body that works very well,” said Intermountain Center for Aortic Disease Co-Director Dr. John Doty.

Intermountain Center for Aortic Disease Co-Director Dr. John Doty works to keep this working and you alive. The red vessel is the aorta. An aortic disease means emergency operations.

“It would be an incision through the rib cage over to the stomach, use of a heart-lung machine, big operation to replace that portion of the aorta and the recovery time and complications that would sometimes happen,” said Dr. Doty.

This newly FDA approved tool could mean goodbye to open-heart surgery if the aorta in the back, the vessel that runs south to the legs, is problematic.

“It’s for something, lethal, life threatening and incredibly dangerous. Now we have something that hopefully can reduce some of that and save these patients,” said Dr. Doty.

Medtronic Sales Representative Michael Johnson demonstrates the new technology.

“This is the latest stent graph from Medtronic,” said Medtronic Sales Representative Michael Johnson.

The sheath takes 29 hours to hand-sew one precious item to cover part of the aorta.

“Devices that go on the top, on the bottom, different lengths, they're custom for every patient,” said Johnson.

The sheath is placed at the end of this catheter. It takes a two-person operation to use it.

“Position the catheter under x-ray and holds the device and we open it and it releases,” said Dr. Doty. “It’s easier on the patient, it tends to be safer, it tends to be just as durable and it allows us to treat many more patients, not only before a catastrophe happens but before ruptures and dissections now,” said Dr. Doty.

Dr. Doty says this technology can be used as a preventative method as well. It’s not just for emergency situations. If you have a family history, an aneurism, or any questions, he says talk with your doctor.

For more information about Intermountain Medical Center's services, click here.

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