As reported by the New Britain Herald, August 8, 2010.

UConn Health Center Performs Breakthrough Aneurysm Procedure

By Scott Whipple

FARMINGTON — The first procedure in the Greater Hartford area to repair an abdominal aneurysm using a tiny surgical incision was recently performed at the University of Connecticut Health Center. The procedure was conducted by a team led by Dr. Michael Dahn, vascular surgeon and director of UConn’s Endovascular Program and Services.

The stent used to repair the aneurysm was implanted through small tubes placed through a small incision in the groin thereby avoiding open surgery. The operation is done entirely under X-ray guidance.

“Since there is no incision, recovery time is very short,” Dahn said. “A patient could go back to work the day after surgery. The infection rate is also lower since there is essentially no tissue injury to foster infection.”

The new approach called PEVAR (percutaneous endovascular aneurysm reconstruction) has been performed at few centers in the U.S. and never before in the Hartford region. This minimally invasive approach is expected to further reduce the risk of aortic aneurysm repair.

John Oleski, 54, of Newington said he was having discomfort in his side and his blood pressure was “through the roof. I thought it was appendicitis. But, when I got to the UConn Health Center, they told me I had an aortic aneurysm. I was shocked. I had never been sick a day in my life.”

Abdominal aortic aneurysms result from a lethal weakening in the wall of the abdominal aorta which can rupture resulting in sudden death.

About 4 to 5 percent of men over 60 are affected by this disease. This silent disorder only becomes symptomatic when an aortic leak or rupture occurs. By then, the risk of death remains high.

Treatment has traditionally involved replacing the aorta with a plastic artery via major vascular surgery. The traditional operation has gradually been replaced by a minimally invasive smaller operation which uses a stent to bypass the aneurysm from the circulation. The risk of this smaller procedure is much lower than the traditional approach and much better tolerated by older individuals.

“I was moving around a day after the procedure,” Oleski said. “And, I was able to return to work in a little over a week. If I had the open surgery I probably would have been out of work for a couple of months.”