The stent graft used in chest arteries is a polyester tube covered by metal webbing. It is delivered with a catheter (thin tube). The surgeon inserts the catheter in a groin artery, and guides it to the thoracic aorta (chest artery). Once the stent graft is deployed from the catheter, the device expands outward to the walls of the artery. Depending on the patient, the stent graft is roughly 1 inch to 2 inches wide and 4 to 8 inches long, said Dr. Michael Tuchek, who has conducted several clinical trials of aortic stent grafts. Tuchek is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
In a study researchers compared 195 patients who received the new stent graft with 189 patients who underwent traditional open chest surgery. About 84 percent of the open chest surgery patients experienced major complications, compared with only 41 percent in the stent graft group. After 12 months, 11.6 percent of the open chest surgery patients had died of aneurysm-related causes, compared with 3.1 percent in the stent graft group.
Loyola's thoracic aortic disease clinic follows more than 1,000 patients. About 80 percent of the patients have aortic aneurysms. Other conditions treated at the clinic include aortic dissection (the inner layer of the aorta's artery wall splits open) and ulcerated plaques (irregular buildup of cholesterol and other deposits in the aortic walls).
Risk factors for aneurysms and other aortic defects include smoking, hardening of the arteries, diabetes, family history, high blood pressure and congenital disorders such as Marfan syndrome. Many people do not realize they have aneurysms until the bulges are detected on CT scans or MRIs.
MEDICA.de; Source: Loyola University Health System