Windham Hospital Ushers in New Era of Best-in-Class Treatment for Life-Threatening Aneurysms with an Unsurpassed Combination of Surgical Skill & Technology
Eastford resident is the first local beneficiary of the life-saving procedure to repair an aneurysm of the abdominal aorta (AAA) – the most advanced treatment available today
The first abdominal aortic stent graft procedure at Windham Hospital was completed on March 1, 2010. Local resident David Erskine, of Eastford, was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening condition know as an aneurysm of the abdominal aorta (or AAA). The latest technology and optimum surgical skill is what saved his life.
Windham Hospital staff surgeon, Dr. David Kloss and interventional radiologist Michael Hallisey worked together to perform the three-hour minimally invasive procedure to place a stent restoring optimum blood flow for the patient. The graft implant was possible due to an exceptional combination of surgical skill and the availability of the interventional radiology suite at Windham.
Michael Hallisey, MD is a national expert and pioneer in the field of stent graft treatments. He has performed more than a thousand endovascular procedures a year as a specialist with Jefferson Radiology practicing at both Windham and Hartford Hospital. In fact, patients travel from around the world to be treated by him. (See the sidebar on Hartford-native Michael Hallisey, MD and how he helped to revolutionize the treatment for AAAs).
According to Dr. Hallisey, very few hospitals are equipped to perform a surgery of this kind and it is likely that Windham is the only community hospital in Connecticut to offer this advanced, life-saving procedure to patients. “In fact, the technology at Windham is among the best I have seen in Connecticut,” said Dr. Hallisey, “people in this area are extremely fortunate to have such a talented surgical team and superior technology available right here.”
David Kloss, MD FACS has been in general surgery practice at Windham for more than 15 years. He has special interests in thyroid, laparoscopic, thoracic and vascular surgery. Dr. Hallisey commented that the entire surgical team at Windham is exceptional and cited this about his partner for the AAA procedure, “Dr. Kloss is immensely talented.” Dr. Kloss identified Mr. Erskine as an ideal patient for this minimally invasive treatment of his aneurysm as he would not be a candidate for traditional, invasive surgery. Conventional surgery often means a five-hour operation with a 14-inch incision across the flank with a risk of a myriad of complications such as intestinal injury, impotence and compromised pulmonary function, among others. It also means one or two days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) followed by a ten-day hospital stay and long recovery. Comparatively, the stent graft Mr. Erskine received had him up and eating the next day and back at home on the third. The procedure involves two small incisions in the upper thigh or groin area to open the artery with a catheter and position the graft.
An aneurysm occurs when a blood vessel grows to twice its normal size and as it enlarges the risk of rupture increases. This patient had an aneurysm of the abdominal aorta also called an AAA. These AAAs are silent killers and are infrequently detected as a pulsating mass in the abdomen; more commonly, they are discovered incidentally by ultrasound or CT scan for other conditions. When an enlarged vessel reaches 4.5 cm in diameter, as was the case with Mr. Erskine, the risk of rupture is greater than the risk of surgery. The great risk of the abdominal aneurysm is sudden rupture and death. According to Dr. Kloss, Mr. Erskine’s case was diagnosed while evaluating other issues. “Not only is he safe now from catastrophic aortic rupture, but he avoided the usual “stem to stern” incision used in open surgery,” Dr. Kloss said.
Nearly two years ago Windham Hospital opened its state-of-the-art interventional radiology suite that continually expands the line up of procedures available locally to patients. According to Dr. Hallisey, it allows physicians to perform image-guided patient treatments that are less invasive, targeted to the patient's needs, providing faster recoveries.
“The room has air exchangers to provide sterile operating conditions, anesthesia hookups to provide accurate patient monitoring and precision imaging for the best treatments for patients in Eastern Connecticut” Dr. Hallisey said. “Windham Hospital is a great choice for area residents for the more sophisticated, high quality array of procedures available now. This best-in-class technology and highly skilled staff allows patients access to new treatment options for cancer, aneurysms, vascular disease and bleeding disorders” he said.
Dr. Michael J. Hallisey, an interventional radiologist with Jefferson Radiology, practicing at both Windham and Hartford Hospitals, is a specialist in endovascular procedures having performed nearly 20,000 in his 20-plus year career. In the early 1990s he helped develop the first US approved stent graft device that is now considered the optimal treatment for AAAs worldwide. His early stent graft model was created using Dacron cloth attached to a wire mesh tube. The FDA approved came in 1998 allowing for clinical trials to commence. In June of that he year Dr. Hallisey placed the first stent graft in a victim of a motor vehicle accident. In 2003, he was recognized by Medtronic Corporation.
AAAs is one of the leading causes of death in patients over the age of 60 and more than 200,000 new cases are diagnosed in the US each year. Conventional open surgery for this silent killer carries a five percent mortality rate and many patients are not candidates for the more invasive procedure. An abdominal aortic sent graft procedure may be their only hope.