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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Seniors' Health Channel
Reported December 24, 2012

The "Gold" Standard: Fixing Aortic Aneurysms

SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- More than a million people are living with an aortic aneurysm and don’t even know it.  It is a widening of a blood vessel and when they become too large; they can burst or rupture, leaving little hope for survival.  One doctor has developed a new way to treat it before it is too late.

“I do this most of the time…crochet or knit,” aortic aneurysm patient, Betty Hartness, told Ivanhoe.

Ironically, it is a special sewing technique that saved Betty’s life.  She had a large aortic aneurysm near her left kidney.

“It is 6.5 centimeters or the size of an apple,” Chief of Vascular Surgery at the University of Washington, Dr. Ben Starnes, told Ivanhoe.

“It could have broke, you know, and then I would have really had a problem,” Hartness said.

Ben Starnes, is the only doctor in North America working with the FDA to build customized stent grafts right in the operating room. 

“We are able to create the graft on the back table,” Dr. Starnes explained.

Traditional stent grafts would keep the blood flowing in the aorta, but would cut off blood flow to Betty’s kidneys.  She would need dialysis for the rest of her life.  Dr. Starnes can pinpoint exactly where the vessel leading to Betty’s kidney is and makes a matching stent. 

“We’ve burned a hole into the graft.  We’ve physically modified the device and sewn an area of gold marker around it so we can see it on the x-ray,” Dr. Starnes said.

The stent graft is snaked through the groin and placed inside the aneurysm.  Now, Betty’s is shrinking.

“Her aneurysm has shrunken down to almost where it is nonexistent,” Dr. Starnes explained.

Doctors believe it will be completely gone in just a few months. 

Full recovery takes just days, compared to 6 months with a traditional stent grafts and open chest surgery.  This type of stent graft could also be customized for the blood vessels that go to the renal organs and the bowels.  With the new aortic stenting procedures, mortality rates have decreased from 50 percent to 20 percent. 


More Information

Click here for additional research on The "Gold" Standard:  Fixing Aortic Aneurysms

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Ben Starnes

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at





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