Minimally Invasive repairs for aortic aneurysms are performed at Thompson
EACH YEAR, nearly 200,000 patients in the U.S. are diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm — a weakening in the body’s largest artery that can worsen and eventually rupture if left untreated, causing severe internal bleeding and possibly death.
According to vascular surgeon Dr. Christopher Scibelli, most of these patients feel no symptoms prior to their diagnosis. In fact, an “AAA” is often only discovered when tests are conducted for other reasons.
That’s exactly what happened to Robert Delamarter earlier this year.
Delamarter was experiencing circulation problems in his left leg, so Scibelli ordered diagnostic imaging tests at Thompson Hospital. One of the tests was a CT scan conducted on March 2. As Delamarter learned during a phone call he received from Scibelli that very evening, the scan revealed an AAA that was 10 centimeters across — twice the size of an aneurysm considered large enough to prompt surgery.
“I was a time bomb waiting to go off,” Delamarter says.
Approximately 15,000 people in the U.S. die each year from a ruptured AAA.
Delamarter was 19 when his father died as a result of an AAA, and he knew surgery would have to happen fast.
“The first thing I asked (Scibelli) was, ‘Can you do it here at Thompson?’ says Delamarter, a 66-year-old New York State Electric & Gas retiree. “He said yes, and I said, ‘OK, sign me up.’”
Scibelli, a University of Rochester Medical Center surgeon who joined Thompson’s medical staff in 2015, had already rearranged his schedule to make sure the emergency surgery could take place the following Monday at Thompson. It involved a procedure called endovascular aneurysm repair, EVAR — far less invasive than the open surgery traditionally used to fix an AAA.
Instead of making major incisions in the chest or abdomen during open bypass grafting, Scibelli makes small incisions in one or both of the patient’s groin arteries. With the help of x-ray images, he inserts and guides a wire to the aneurysm. A stent graft is advanced over the wire and expanded within the artery, restoring blood flow.
Whereas the traditional open surgery typically involves a week in the hospital, the patient is often able to go home the day after EVAR and has a faster recovery. Delamarter says his surgery was at noon on March 6 and he was home the next day.
“I never had pain, just discomfort due to the two incisions,” he says.
All of Delamarter’s follow-up imaging tests look good, and he feels good, too. On April 6, just as spring had sprung, Scibelli’s nurse practitioner, Christina D’Agostino, ended the restrictions on lifting, twisting and turning, allowing Delamarter to enjoy the warmer weather without limitations.
Married with two adult children, three stepchildren and nine grandchildren, Delamarter considers himself fortunate his AAA was caught and repaired with a procedure involving a quick recovery.
“I figure I’m pretty lucky that they found it,” he says. “And it’s nice there’s a facility so close by.”