MUSC first in Southeast to perform complex aortic arch surgery with new innovative device

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Following the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration  approval of the Thoraflex Hybrid frozen elephant trunk device for the treatment of patients with complex aortic arch disease, MUSC Health announced it was the first medical center in the Southeast to implant the commercially available device.   

Thoraflex Hybrid is a single-use medical device, combining a Gelweave polyester graft with a Nitinol self-expanding stent graft. It is used for the open surgical repair or replacement of damaged or diseased vessels of the aortic arch and repair of the descending thoracic aorta with or without involvement of the ascending aorta, in cases of aneurysm and/or dissection.The aorticarch is the top section of the main artery, the aorta, that carries away blood from the heart. Shaped like an arch, it connects the ascending aorta and descending aorta. Aortic arch diseases are life-threatening and necessitate surgical intervention.

The implant was performed by Sanford Zeigler, M.D., assistant professor Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at MUSC and medical director of the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) at MUSC Health. “Patients with complex aortic arch disease would typically need two complex open operations,” said Zeigler. “Now, with Thoraflex Hybrid, we can treat patients who may be at great risk of rupture with a device that brings the primary benefit of requiring a single-stage procedure, minimizing the time during which the body has no blood flow during the operation and minimizing blood loss, overall improving patient outcomes,” said Zeigler.

The patient, Frederick Deribas, first noticed symptoms a few months ago. He thought he had a hernia, but when his doctor couldn’t find evidence of one, she ordered an ultrasound, which showed a tear in his femoral artery. He was then referred to MUSC Health for further evaluation, where doctors discovered an aortic dissection, which had grown to a size that was concerning.

“Since Mr. Deribas wasn’t in an emergency situation, we were fortunate that we could do this as a planned operation, giving the patient time to focus on getting stronger and losing a little weight to optimize his surgical outcome,” said Zeigler. “The procedure was very successful; the device performed well, and Mr. Deribas is making a good recovery.”

He is doing so well, in fact, that he went home from the hospital four days after the surgery. Zeigler said that 10 years ago, a patient would stay in the hospital seven to 10 days after a major surgery for aortic arch disease. 

“Never in my life would I have thought I felt so good after such a major surgery,” said Deribas. “I’m so grateful to Dr. Zeigler and to my primary care provider, who referred me to MUSC Health. They saved my life.”

Zeigler explained that the quick recovery is partly related to the Thoraflex device, partly related to  MUSC Health’s CVICU team refining and improving its enhanced recovery after cardiac surgery procedures and partly related to his patients great attitude and desire to get well.

“He did a lot of hard work leading up to the surgery,” said Zeigler. “He got in shape, lost some weight and overall had a great attitude. It has been a pleasure taking care of him.”

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