New Minimally-Invasive Thoracic Aneurysm Repair Procedure Now Offered

July 20, 2005

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Vascular surgeons at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center are the first in the Triad to offer a minimally-invasive treatment for thoracic aortic aneurysms—a condition that can be fatal if not treated. The new treatment, a tube that is threaded from an artery in the leg to the aneurysm within the chest to reinforce the vessel, is an alternative to traditional surgery.

Aneurysms are bulges that occur in weak spots of an artery’s wall. A common location is in the aorta, the body’s largest blood vessel. If left untreated, aneurysms can grow and then rupture and causing massive internal bleeding. Most aneurysms of the aorta develop in the part of the vessel that passes through the abdomen, but about 25 percent develop in the part that passes through the chest and are known as thoracic aneurysms.

Wake Forest Baptist vascular surgeons have been using stent grafts—tubes used to reinforce the inside of a diseased artery—since 1999 to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms with more than 100 implants to date and excellent results. Because of their experience, they have been trained and approved to use the GORE-TAG® stent graft the only such device currently approved the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat thoracic aneurysms.

“This is a significant breakthrough for a very difficult problem,” said Randolph L. Geary, M.D., professor of vascular surgery at Wake Forest Baptist. “Traditional surgery, the gold standard, is tough on healthy patients and those with other health problems often cannot tolerate the stress of surgery in the chest. The most feared complication of surgical repair is paraplegia, particularly in patients with extensive aneurysms.”

The new GORE-TAG device is inserted through a small incision in the groin or lower abdomen, avoiding a large incision into the chest and abdomen. Most patients are awake during the procedure under regional anesthesia. Patients are observed in the hospital for three to four days afterward, but are typically out of bed the next day.

“This is remarkable compared to the difficult recovery after surgical repair and studies done for the FDA approval showed fewer deaths and complications with the new device,” said Geary. “We are very excited to announce that we have a team of four vascular surgeons trained to offer this new procedure to our patients in the region.”


Media Contacts: Jim Steele,, Shannon Koontz,, or Karen Richardson,, at (336) 716-4587.

About Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center: Wake Forest Baptist is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,187 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

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