A new treatment for a potentially life-threatening condition has been performed at the Conquest Hospital - one of the first of its kind in the south east.
The new procedure is used to treat an aortic aneurysm, which is a swelling of the aorta, the main blood vessel that leads away from the heart, down through the abdomen to the rest of the body.
Using X-ray images, the new treatment inserts two stents into the patient’s aorta.
Then the entre aneurysm sac is filled with a polymer which cures in 10 minutes creating a seal around the aneurysm, leaving the blood free to flow from the heart to the organs of the lower body.
The procedure takes around an hour and is performed under an anaesthetic spinal block with the patient conscious throughout the procedure.
Dr Mo Faris, consultant radiologist for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the Conquest and Eastbourne DGH, said: “We are delighted to be one of the first trusts in the south east to be performing this new procedure.
“It will transform the treatment of this potentially life-threatening condition. Compared with the previous treatment for this condition the polymer introduced into the cavity of the aneurysm creates a seal and stops any leakage of blood.
“This avoids the risk of any complications and significantly reduces the need for any secondary intervention following the procedure.
“It ultimately stops any pressure building up on this weak point of this important blood vessel’s wall.”
The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body and is usually around 2cm wide – roughly the width of a garden hose.
However, it can swell to more than 5.5cm – what doctors class as a large aortic aneurysm.
Large aneurysms are rare, but can be very serious. If a large aneurysm bursts, it causes huge internal bleeding and is usually fatal.
The bulging occurs when the wall of the aorta weakens. Although what causes this weakness is unclear, smoking and high blood pressure are thought to increase the risk of an aneurysm.
Aortic aneurysms are most common in men aged over 65. A rupture accounts for more than one in 50 of all deaths in this group and a total of 6,000 deaths in England and Wales each year.
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust provides NHS hospital and community services throughout the county, as well as at the Conquest and DGH. It also runs community hospitals in Bexhill, Crowborough, Lewes, Rye and Uckfield and a number of clinics and health centres, GP surgeries and in people’s homes.