Health Watch: 3D Aneurysm repair from smartphones

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Patient Michael Renner recalled, "We are worried this thing could blow."

Fear. That's what Michael Renner and his wife felt when he was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

"It was life or death," shared Michael's wife, Elaine Kenny Renner.

The walls of his artery weakened, creating a balloon-like bulge in the part of the aorta that runs through the abdomen.

"Eventually it could rupture," warned Mahmoud Malas, MD, MHS, RPVI, FACS, professor in residence and vice chair of surgery for clinical research and chief, division vascular and endovascular surgery at University of California San Diego Health System.

Just 20 percent of patients survive. But if caught early, a rupture can be prevented.

"We put wires and catheters that allow us to fix the aneurysm from the inside," explained Dr. Malas.

Getting the graft is place can be difficult. Dr. Malas is now using the same technology in your smartphone to create personalized real-time maps that help him navigate during surgery.

"It uses like facial recognition like on the phone and creates a 3D reconstruction and overlay it right there in the operating room," Dr. Malas illustrated.

A CT scan taken before surgery is combined with an x-ray taken during surgery creating that 3D model that shows where the grafts need to go.

"We can directly go in and get into the vessels much faster. Think of it as a GPS that guides you to navigate through the patient anatomy to get into these vessels," elaborated Dr. Malas.

Half the amount of dye and radiation is used. Surgery time is cut by half. As for Michael, doctors were able to graft his aneurysm before it caused any problems.

"Basically, it's a new lease on life," Elaine affirmed.

He and Elaine are ready to get on with life with their grandkids.

Up to 25 percent of aneurysms occur in patients who have a family history of them. There is also a very strong link to smoking. Smoking also causes the aneurysm to grow faster than non-smokers. So, people over the age of 65, who have a family history and smoke should ask their doctor to be screened with an ultrasound for aneurysms.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Marsha Lewis, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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