When Greg Gleason was feeling sick on April 25, he made an appointment to see his primary care physician. He thought that something was wrong because he could feel his heart beating in his stomach. His doctor ordered an ultrasound and a CT scan and the results indicated an abdominal aortic aneurysm that needed to be removed.
Gleason was not in any pain from the aneurysm, but since the aneurysm was larger, he needed to have surgery. Gleason was admitted to Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center where he met J. Michael Tuchek, D.O., cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon with Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center.
“I always give patients three options for an aneurysm,” says Dr. Tuchek. “They can do nothing; they can have major surgery; or they can have the stent procedure. A majority of the time the stent is chosen because it has the lowest risk of the three and offers the fastest recovery.”
The procedure involves using a synthetic graft that is attached to the end of a thin tube (catheter) that’s inserted through an artery in your leg and threaded up into your aorta. The graft — a woven tube covered by a metal mesh support — is deployed at the site of the aneurysm and fastened in place with small hooks .The graft reinforces the weakened section of the aorta to prevent rupture of the aneurysm. This type of procedure is called endovascular stent graft surgery. The Talent™ Abdominal Stent Graft is uniquely designed with three methods of fixation for stability, durability, and performance. This design allows it to be used in patients that otherwise would only be a candidate for open surgery.
“Typically, the damaged section of the aorta is removed and replaced with a synthetic tube through an open-abdominal surgery involving a large incision in your belly, says Dr. Tuchek. “The procedure was often followed by a recovery time of one to two weeks.”
Now, with the new stent available, Dr. Tuchek was able to perform a less invasive procedure that involved insertion of a stent into Gleason’s aorta. This was one of the first surgeries of its kind performed in the nation. The device used was a Talent™ Abdominal Stent Graft, which is a minimally-invasive device that treats dangerous bulges in the aorta - the body’s largest artery - that can rupture without warning.
Dr. Tuchek is recognized as one of the country’s leading experts in Endovascular Stent Grafting of Thoracic and Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms, noted recently by Money Magazine and Healthgrades.com recognized him as one of America’s best surgeons for Carotid Artery Disease and for Aneurysm Surgery. He is the primary investigator in numerous endovascular trials. Shortly after FDA approval of the Medtronic Talent Thoracic Stent Graft at the end of May, Dr. Tuchek was one of the first to perform the procedure in the United States.
It is estimated that approximately two to three million people in the United States have an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA). Only approximately 15 percent are ever diagnosed, even though nearly all AAAs can be detected through an inexpensive ultrasound screening test, and less than half of those are ever treated. Patients typically have no symptoms until the aneurysm ruptures. Once diagnosed, they often undergo complex open surgical repair. Stent graft therapy provides a minimally invasive alternative, with reduced recovery times and improved survival rates.
“I am thankful that the stent procedure was used,” says Gleason. “Other than two small incisions in the groin area, you would never know I had the surgery. I recuperated for a couple of weeks, but now feel great.” Thanks to the shorter recovery, Gleason has returned to normal activities - including one of his favorite chores, mowing the lawn.