Ready! - Shawna

AUSTIN -- When you think AAA -- you might think of a roadside rescue. This AAA also requires a rescue -- in an operating room.

AAA is an acronym for abdominal aortic aneurysm. It's a swelling and weakening in the aorta — the main vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Over time, the aneurysm will grow larger potentially leading to a fatal rupture.

For many patients, including one Austin man, a new device called the Zenith Fenestrated Endovascular Graft is the only way doctors could repair the problem.

Mike Shirah, 67, had triple coronary bypass surgery in December.

"I still had fresh memories of what open chest surgery was like," said Shirah. "It was very painful."

With that pain not yet a distant memory, Shirah confronted another vascular problem -- an aortic swelling near the kidneys.

"I knew it was there, and I knew it had to be dealt with," he said.

Doctors told Shirah about the Graft. It's placed within the diseased vessel through the groin to seal off the aneurysm. The graft is sewn to a frame of expanding stainless steel stents that provide support. It makes a new path, restoring proper blood flow to the kidneys and bowel. This means there is then no need for open surgery through the abdomen or chest, which is critical for Shirah.

"His abdominal aortic aneurysm had grown to almost 6 centimeters," said Mazin Foteh, M.D., a vascular surgeon at Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons. "At 6 centimeters the risk of rupture is 10 to 15 percent in one year. The unique characteristics about his aneurysm is that it traveled up all the way to the kidney vessels."

Due to his triple bypass just months earlier – Shirah couldn't have another open procedure.

"We're able to treat nearly 85 percent of aneurysms in the U.S. today with an FDA approved device for abdominal aortic aneurysm," said Foteh.

"It was actually painless," said Shirah. "That's what amazes me. Whatever recuperating I was able to do I was able to do at home in my environment, and I am really grateful for that."

Each graft is custom made to fit the patient.

Click here to learn more about the Zenith Fenestrated Graft