Newswise — LOS ANGELES (Dec. 5, 2018) - Vascular surgeon Ali Azizzadeh, MD, was the first to use a newly approved, minimally invasive device to perform a series of innovative surgeries on patients with aneurysms of the aorta, the main vessel that delivers blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

“Prior to gaining approval from the Food and Drug Administration, patients with many types of aneurysms and aortic conditions had limited treatment options,” said Azizzadeh, director of Vascular Surgery at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. “Now, patients can undergo a minimally invasive procedure to fix complex problems of the aorta without having open surgery.”

The Valiant Navion™ thoracic stent graft system is delivered from a groin blood vessel into the aorta, is positioned above the affected aneurysm, and is deployed under x-ray guidance. Compared to other technologies, the stent graft can travel through smaller, curvy vessels and better adjust to a patient’s anatomy.

Nancy Angelino, the very first patient to undergo the procedure, feels fortunate.

“This was a difficult surgery, but I knew I was in good hands,” said Angelino, 85, of Culver City. “I feel very lucky to have benefited from this new and improved surgical technique and for the great doctors who cared for me. After my recovery, I know I will feel stronger and healthier, and will remain forever grateful.”

Since Angelino’s surgery, Azizzadeh who, in conjunction with medical device company Medtronic, served as the national principal investigator in clinical tests of the device – has performed several additional, successful surgeries.

Aneurysms are weakening, or bulging, of blood vessels that can rupture and become life-threatening. Though aneurysms can happen anywhere in the body, they most commonly happen in the brain, or in the main vessels that lead to the heart, legs and arms.

Risk factors for aneurysms include heredity, smoking, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.