LHSC performs lifesaving aortic surgery never before done in North America
As an inventor, Jeff Pitman knew he was the perfect person to try out a surgery never before performed in North America.
“I wasn't exactly in a position to say new products don't work,” laughed Pitman in an interview from London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), Victoria Campus in London, Ont.
“I was the perfect guy to say, ‘let's try it,’” he added.
Pitman — who invented truck ladders — had an aortic dissection a couple of years ago, but some of the lesions didn’t heal properly.
“This one just got to a point where it started to block off my kidney function and both my blood flow to both my legs,” said Pitman. “I was no longer able to make my legs function. So it kind of gave me an idea that there was something drastically wrong.”
He spoke to his doctors at LHSC and they discovered a very complicated problem.
Dr. John Landau shows off the Artivion E-nside aortic stent-graft which was used to save the life of patient Jeff Pitman in London, Ont. The surgery was the first of its kind in North America. (Source: Brent Lale/CTV London)“He developed another very large aneurysm and it was complicated by the anatomy,” said Dr. Luc Dubois, a vascular surgeon at LHSC. “He had very narrow area we had to work through, which is why we had to get access to this special device from Europe.”
The device is called the Artivion E-nside aortic stent-graft.
“It's sort of a fabric covered metal stent that realigns the inside of the aorta,” said Dr. John Landau, a vascular surgeon at LHSC. “We can put it inside of the aneurysm…the dissection that Jeff had to prevent blood flow from going into that dissection and aneurysm and sort of depressurize it.”
Landau describes the device as different than other stents where it is large at both ends, and small in the middle with branch stents.
“That was sort of the perfect size and shape and really the only possible device that we could use to fix Jeff's problem,” he said.
As experts in their field, and working at a large academic hospital, they were aware of the technology. They reached out to the company who indicated the device was exactly what they needed.
Dr. Luc Dubois, a vascular surgeon at LHSC in London, Ont. shows the aortic dissection and aneurysm of patient Jeff Pitman. Pitman received a life saving surgery using never before done in North America. (Brent Lale/CTV News London) They then sought approval from Health Canada for the emergency situation, who responded quickly knowing a rupture of the aorta could happen at any time.
“It was very simple and straightforward,” said Pitman, who had a recovery time of just a few weeks.
He added, “Simple from my end, as all I had to deal with lie there and present a good canvas. But they did the hard work because we explained it like building a ship in a bottle. They had to come in through the through the artery with wires guided by X-ray. It's a very cool technology.”
Both surgeons agree that this won’t be commonplace, but if there is another person who has the same problem as Pitman, they would be confident in using the technology again.
“The benefit of working in an academic institution affiliated with the university is this is something we'll share with other vascular surgeons in Canada to tell everyone how the experience went,” said Landau. “Hopefully it will allow other people to know that this is something that's out there that they can use if they come across a similarly challenging problem in their own institution."
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