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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Complex Aneurysm Surgery Saves Army Veteran’s Life

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Complex Double Aneurysm Rupture Surgery Saves Army Veteran’s Life

Dr. George Pisimisis; Dr. Thuy Ngo, staff Anesthesiologist; Shannon Clark-Murray, CRNA; and Dr. Carlos Bechara check in on Crosby (center).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Surgeons at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) recently performed complex double aneurysm surgery to save the life of a 63-year-old, Army Veteran suffering from a thoracic and abdominal aneurysm.

“When I came to the Emergency Department at the hospital, I was in excruciating pain,” said John Crosby from Spurger, Tx. “The doctors and nurses were great! I was very glad they diagnosed and treated me so quickly.”

An aneurysm is a weakened spot in the aorta, the major pipe-like structure that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A thoracic aortic aneurysm is located in the chest area whereas an abdominal aortic aneurysm is located in the stomach area.  The weakened area bulges out like a bubble in a garden hose and can possibly rupture. When this occurs, a person can bleed to death in minutes. Aneurysms are most commonly located in the abdomen and can sometimes cause symptoms such as abdominal or back pain, but having two aneurysms causing symptoms is unheard of.

“It is very rare to have two separate aneurysms causing pain at the same time, said George T. Pisimisis, M.D., staff vascular surgeon and also an assistant professor of Vascular Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM).  Mr. Crosby was diagnosed fast and within one hour from his arrival at the Emergency Department, he was on his way to surgery.”  “He is very lucky he came to us when he did.”

Two vascular surgery teams lead by Pisimisis and Carlos Bechara, M.D., M.S., staff vascular surgeon and also an assistant professor of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy at BCM, performed simultaneous repair of the aneurysms through two small groin incisions. 

“Performing Mr. Crosby’s surgery successfully required a significant amount of coordination. The diligence and expertise of the surgery and anesthesia teams, radiology staff, emergency room and nursing staff saved Mr. Crosby’s life,” said Bechara. 

After three days Crosby is ready to go home.  “After experiencing upper and lower back pain for months, I am feeling much better since surgery.  I am so grateful to the doctors here at the Houston VA; they have given me back my quality of life,” said Crosby.  “I can’t wait to get back on the golf course.”

“It was very gratifying to see Mr. Crosby move his legs and arms after surgery.  He had been in such pain that even the slightest movement was very difficult,” said Pisimisis.

“We are very proud to have surgeons with the skill set and training required to successfully perform such complex procedures expeditiously,” said Samir S. Awad, M.D., Operative Care Line executive and professor in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at BCM. “We are proud the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center has some of the best doctors in the country and offers the latest, minimally invasive alternatives for our Veterans.”