This episode of Penn Vital Signs follows the story of Doug Wray, a seemingly healthy 50 year-old father of three. Had it not been for tests taken during a routine physical, Doug would have never known that his heart's main artery, called the aorta, had enlarged to twice its normal size. This condition is known as an aortic aneurysm and causes the aorta's wall to become weak and over time, may fill with blood and rupture, causing anything from a stroke to instant death.
To complicate matters, Doug was also born with an abnormal heart valve, which left untreated, could lead to heart failure. Because of the severity and complexity of his case, Doug has turned to the Penn Heart and Vascular team at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to undergo a groundbreaking surgery, in which the surgical team will take him to the brink of death in order to save his life.
Although aortic aneurysms are a condition that few people know about, they claim the lives of thousands of people each year. Robert Smith knows first-hand how scary and serious this condition is. Like Doug, Robert also has an aortic aneurysm, but due to his age he was not a candidate for the open-heart procedure. However, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania offered him another option.
As part of a clinical trial, doctors were able to perform a minimally invasive procedure in which a catheter is inserted into the vein in the groin and a stent graft (similar to the stents that are placed in the arteries of the heart to keep them open) is delivered up through the catheter and into the aneurysm. Tune in to the show to see how these procedures are performed and the results of this amazing technology.
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