Riyad Karmy-Jones, MD, FACS, FRCSC
Vascular, Thoracic and Trauma Surgeon
Southwest Medical Group Thoracic & Vascular Surgery
Abdominal aortic aneurysm: The other “AAA”
Drivers who find themselves stranded due to a flat tire or empty gas tank know that they can call AAA for roadside assistance. But there’s one type of blow out that the auto club can’t fix.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm, also known as AAA, is a serious medical condition. It’s an enlargement, or bulge, that develops in the largest artery in the body, which leads from the heart to the lower abdomen. As many as 200,000 people in the Untied States are diagnosed with AAA each year—and they’re the lucky ones because a ruptured AAA usually ends in death.
With early diagnosis, AAA can be safely treated with open surgical repair or a minimally invasive stent graft procedure. Much like the cardiac stents that prop open a blocked coronary artery, we use stent grafts (stents covered in fabric) to stabilize the aneurysm and keep it from bursting.
The techniques and devices for repairing AAAs are advancing at light speed, and PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center is on the leading edge of this technology. As one of just 20 elite medical centers around the country, PeaceHealth Southwest is involved in research to test a stent graft device for repairing difficult AAA cases.
Previously, these cases would require open surgery, meaning we would have to make a large incision in the abdomen in order to place the stent graft. This type of surgery is very successful in repairing the AAA, but it results in a lengthy recovery time for the patient, including weeks in the hospital and several more weeks of recovery at home.
Using a minimally invasive catheter-based technique and a new stent graft design, we can now perform a AAA repair with just two tiny incisions. The patient is out of the hospital within a few short days and back to normal activities within a week.
As with so many diseases and conditions, the key is early detection. Taking a big step toward improving early detection, Congress recently passed a law to include a one-time AAA ultrasound screening for qualified seniors as part of the “Welcome to Medicare” physical. Patients must receive the physician exam and the ultrasound screening referral within the first six months of enrollment with Medicare Part B. For more information regarding the "Welcome to Medicare" AAA screening, go to www.medicare.gov/health/AAA.asp.
About the doctor...
Riyad Karmy-Jones, MD, served as associate professor at the University of Washington and chief of Thoracic Surgery at Harborview Medical Center.
He took his fellowship in interventional radiology at the University of Washington. He completed his residency in general surgery at George Washington University Medical Center, followed by trauma/ICU, Washington Hospital Center, and Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Alberta, 1991-94. His medical degree was awarded by the University of Alberta.
His clinical interests include:
Thoracic oncology (lung, mediastinum, esophagus), benign esophageal disease (including laparoscopic and thorascopic approaches), thoracic trauma, thoracic vascular diseases.