Now, a surgeon has developed a device to help save people with this condition who have run out of options.
In the last five years, Bill Cardwell has encountered more challenges than he could ever face on the golf course. First it was serious heart problems, then a ticking time bomb bulging in his belly that could burst at any time.
"Absolutely it was just tick, tick, tick, tick, it's hard to not think about it," Bill Cardwell told Action News.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is caused by a weakening in the lining of the body's main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. If this kind of aneurysm ruptures, the risk of death is up to 90%. Bill needed help fast, but his heart condition and the location of the aneurysm meant he could not have surgery or get a traditional endograft to repair the problem.
"If we put a standard endograft in we would have covered his kidney arteries so he would have no blood flow to his kidneys and he would lose his kidneys. Essentially, there's really no other option," Joseph J. Ricotta II, M.D., MS, FACS, a director of vascular surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, said.
Doctor Ricotta developed a lifesaving endovascular graft customized to fit a patient's anatomy.
The small windows in the "fenestrated" stent graft allow major vessels to connect to the repaired aneurysm, allowing normal blood flow to the kidneys and other vital organs. Five months after his procedure, Bill is back on the green with a new appreciation for life and golf.
"You have to have the right attitude, now just go have fun," Bill said.
Doctor Ricotta's fenestrated graft can be used in emergency situations for patients with complex aneurysms that have ruptured or may be about to rupture. Some of the major risk factors of these potentially deadly aneurysms are smoking and high blood pressure.
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Joseph J. Ricotta