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Modern Medicine April 4, 2006

Posted by sensawunda in Uncategorized.
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Why didn’t I blog for a while? Because before I even got over my illness, my husband suffered an aortic dissection. This is what killed actor John Ritter.

However, my husband has Marfan syndrome, so we knew he had a risk for dissection. When we told the ER doctor that, she was able to get him stabilized.

This article shows a good diagram of dissection. Scroll down to find the diagram labeled “Descending Aortic Dissection”—this is what happened to my husband. The inner lining of the aorta separated, allowing blood to flow between the inner and outer walls of the aorta. The aorta is then weakened enough that it could rupture.

Last Wednesday, surgeon Richard Toon M.D. performed a procedure that’s only a couple of years old. Instead of replacing part of the aorta, which would entail open heart surgery, he put in a TAG graft. (Click on the animation link!) It’s a tube that goes inside the aorta and covers up the place where the dissection started. It presses the torn lining back up against the aorta so it can reattach, if I understand correctly. It also bypasses an aneurysm that was getting started, as in this picture. And it’s put in place via a catheter that’s inserted into the femoral artery—much the same way that they do a cardiac catheterization test.

The risks were approximately half those of the replacement surgery, and the recovery will be easier.

Sensawundameter: WandWandWandWand

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