About the Procedure

Thoracoabdominal Aneurysm Repair

Thoracoabdominal Aneurysm Repair

Houston, Texas- Physicians and interested health care consumers around the world will have the opportunity to observe as renowned cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon Hazim J. Safi, M.D., performs a complex thoracoabdominal aneurysm (TAA) repair live on the Internet on Wednesday, November 17th. The live surgical Webcast from Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center is the first of its kind in Houston.

"TAA repair is one of the most extreme surgeries that the human body can tolerate," said Dr. Safi, Chairman and Chief of the Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. "Because the aneurysm involves the portion of the aorta that is in the chest as well as the portion that is located in the abdomen, the patient is almost literally cut in half." Over the past decade, Dr. Safi and his team have refined their innovative technique for surgically repairing life-threatening TAAs, dramatically reducing the risk of paralysis.

An aneurysm is a ballooning or bulging of an artery and is most common in the aorta, the body's main artery. While some individuals notice telltale signs like shortness of breath or back pain, aortic aneurysms are nicknamed the "silent killer," because most people experience no symptoms in advance of life-threatening ruptures.

More than 10,000 Americans die from ruptured aortic aneurysms each year, and at least another 100,000 are diagnosed before rupture, typically as the result of an imaging procedure. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the incidence of aneurysms has substantially increased in recent decades. Surgery is the only recognized effective treatment.

A variety of factors may contribute to development of aneurysms, including genetics, cholesterol deposits, and environmental conditions such as blunt trauma. As people age and their blood vessels lose elasticity, aneurysms become more common. "Everyone older than 40 should be screened for aneurysms," Dr. Safi said.

The procedure to be performed on November 17th will involve resection of a thoracoadominal aneurysm and replacement of the compromised arterial tissue with a Dacron/polyester graft. Post-surgical patients usually remain hospitalized for one to two weeks and enjoy a normal life span.

A catheter, inserted at the beginning of the procedure to drain spinal fluid, relieves pressure that is created during the surgery and reduces the risk of post-surgical paralysis. Surgical methods, refined by Dr. Safi and his team since 1992, have dramatically reduced the incidence of paralysis from 15 percent to less than 3 percent.

Serving as the online moderator during the live webcast surgery program will be Steve Allen, M.D., medical director for Memorial Hermann Hospital. Dr. Allen will also receive e-mailed questions from viewers worldwide and relay them to Dr. Safi who will answer selected, appropriate inquiries during the surgery. Archived streaming video of the procedure will be available for at least one year after the live program, and Dr. Safi and his team will continue to answer e-mailed questions for one week following the surgery.

"This webcast from Memorial Hermann Hospital is an opportunity for viewers to be educated and informed about a life-saving technique that few have mastered from the dedicated and expert medical team that refined it." Allen said.


About Memorial Hermann

Memorial Hermann, a leader in healthcare innovation, provides quality, comprehensive programs and services through its 12 hospitals located in the Texas Medical Center and throughout the region. Memorial Hermann offers the resources and technology of a university-affiliated teaching hospital and the convenience afforded by broad geographic coverage. Founded in 1907, Memorial Hermann takes a patient-centric approach to health care and offers a comprehensive range of programs and specialty centers of excellence in heart and vascular services, neurosciences, orthopedics, pediatrics and neonatology.



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