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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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VA Surgeon Devises “Clever Technique” to Save Lives

December 11, 2012


A staff vascular surgeon at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) recently developed and published a new endovascular technique to treat a complex vascular problem.

Flush Iliac artery occlusion refers to blockage of an artery where it splits into two. This condition is difficult to treat with minimally invasive surgery because there is no room for a wire and catheter to go through the blockage in order to place a stent. A stent is a wire mesh stainless steel tube that holds an artery open and keeps it from closing again.  This problem is most often treated with open bypass surgery.

However, Carlos Bechara, M.D., M.S., F.A.C.S., a staff vascular surgeon at the MEDVAMC and the program director of Vascular Surgery Fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), overcame this obstacle by placing a balloon at the fork of the artery to allow passage of the wire through the blockage, allowing insertion of a stent. With this clever technique, surgeons are able to avoid the potential morbidities associated with open surgery.

“I did not think much about this technique when I first performed the procedure except that it was an obvious solution for a complex problem,” said Bechara. “Since publishing the article in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, I have already been told by other surgeons that they have had great success using this technique.”

Bechara’s effective, new technique will be featured during the VIETH 39th Annual Symposium on Vascular and Endovascular Issues in New York this year. The VEITH Symposium is one of the world’s largest gatherings of vascular surgeons and vascular specialists to discuss groundbreaking research, updates on clinical trials, and advances to treat vascular disease.

“I am proud the technique that I developed will be featured at one of the most prominent vascular meetings in the world. Something like this is a dream come true for a young surgeon like myself,” said Bechara.

“Dr. Bechara has successfully treated 12 patients with this technique; hopefully, we will present our data at other national meetings to help spread the word,” said Panagiotis Kougias, M.D., Vascular Surgery Section chief and associate professor of Surgery/Vascular Surgery at BCM. “We are proud the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center has some of the best doctors and nurses in the country and offers the latest, minimally invasive alternatives for our Veterans.”