New procedure offers hope for aortic aneurysm patients

Frank Korany is back to enjoying life’s adventures after minimally invasive fenestrated endograft procedure

Frank at oxford tap blog

Frank is back to playing his saxophone.

Frank Korany knew something was very wrong when he was transferred from one hospital near his home to the University of Michigan emergency room in 2013. As it turned out, the aortic aneurysm he had been diagnosed with in 2007 (and which his doctors were monitoring) had grown so large that only a team of specialists like those at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center had the necessary expertise to treat him.

Frank was no stranger to heart issues. He had experienced congestive heart failure, which led to a pacemaker in 2008, followed by surgery to insert two stents and then a serious infection that required removal of the pacemaker and impacted his joints and teeth. “I had to learn to walk again,” Frank says, due to the severity of the joint infection.

When he was admitted to U-M for treatment of the seven-centimeter aneurysm growing in his aorta, Frank jokingly posted this message on his Facebook page: “Vacationing in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan.”

Leaders in fenestrated endograft procedure

But the seriousness of Frank’s condition left only one option: a fenestrated abdominal aortic endograft procedure. While treatment for aortic aneurysms involving major branch vessels has historically been an open surgery, Frankel CVC physicians were among the first to perform the minimally invasive fenestrated endograft procedure on patients like Frank, eliminating the need for open surgery. Dr. John Rectenwald and Dr. Jonathan Eliason performed the six-hour procedure.

The unique feature of fenestrated endografts is that they can cover branch arteries of the aorta (such as the renal arteries) because the graft has fenestrations, or holes, that correspond to the position of the branching arteries within the aorta to allow for blood to flow through the graft into the branch vessel. This breakthrough procedure allows patients to recover in just days with fewer potential complications.

Ready to roll

james and grandpa (Frank) baking pies blog

Frank and his grandson, James, enjoy baking together.

Although experiencing a health setback with a bladder cancer diagnosis followed by successful surgery, Frank says he feels “better than I have in 30 years,” thanks to his fenestrated endograft procedure in 2013.

A self-proclaimed risk-taker, Frank is now trying to decide what his next adventure will be. He’s considering a trip to Scottsdale, Ariz., accompanied by his saxophone, to visit a musician friend who recently moved there. “I also love to cook,” he says, noting that “the Surgeon General might outlaw” some of his specialties.

But he’s looking forward, not back. “If you’re alive, you should enjoy life. I’m not afraid of dying. I’m just not ready.” He gives a big thumbs up to the U-M staff, saying, “I know they saved my life.”

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.