Vascular Surgery

Vascular SystemThe vascular system contains vessels that transmit your blood throughout your body. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. As your blood travels from the heart through your body, it goes into small blood vessels delivering nutrients and picking up waste. On the way back to the heart, blood is carried to through your veins. As the blood passes your kidneys and liver it disposes of waste before reaching its final destination, your heart.

Vascular surgeons treat diseases of the vascular system. These diseases affect the veins and arteries in your body, which conduct oxygen to every living cell, thus preventing your body from functioning properly.

In most cases, vascular conditions are highly treatable, often without surgery. It is important to see a vascular surgeon, even when surgery is not needed.

Endovascular Repair of an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm


Endovascular repair is a type of treatment for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). An AAA is a balloon-like bulge of the wall of the aorta, the body’s largest artery. This bulge can worsen and eventually rupture if left untreated, causing severe internal bleeding and possibly death.


Each year, nearly 200,000 patients in the U.S. are diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm and approximately 15,000 die from a ruptured AAA.

Several factors can lead to the weakening of the aortic walls:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Male
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Aging

Most patients feel no symptoms prior to their diagnosis. In fact, an “AAA” is often only discovered when tests are conducted for other reasons. You may need this procedure if your aneurysm is over 5 centimeters or larger or it is at risk of splitting or bursting.

Endovascular repair, performed by vascular surgeons Karina A. Newhall, M.D., M.S., Grayson S. Pitcher, M.D.  and Doran S. Mix, M.D. at Thompson Hospital, is a minimally invasive procedure. Instead of making major incisions in the chest of abdomen during open bypass grafting, small incisions are made in one or both of the patient’s groin arteries. With the help of x-ray images, the surgeon inserts and guides a wire to the aneurysm. A stent graft is advance over the wire to the aneurysm, expanded within the artery, restoring blood flow. Instead of a week in the hospital, the patient is often able to go home the next day and experience a faster recovery.

Aortic Aneurysm