“I was so lucky they
East Jefferson General Hospital is dedicated to remaining a national leader, in not only the treatment of routine cardiac care, but also the complex cardiac surgical cases that require advanced care. To accommodate the rising number of patients who need specialized treatment and surgical procedures, EJGH has now opened one of the most advanced hybrid surgical suites in our region. The hybrid surgical suite combines elements of a cardiac catheterization lab and an operating room to allow surgeons to perform cardiac and surgical procedures in the same operating room without moving the patient. This is a tremendous advantage for the patient and the surgeons, as the suite can accommodate all the technology and diagnostic equipment needed for even the most complex and delicate surgical procedures.
“The new hybrid suite at EJGH allows our cardiovascular physicians to combine state-of-the-art imaging with a world-class operating room,” says Dr. James Perrien, Cardiologist with East Jefferson General Hospital. “It opens the horizons for us to be able to do more advanced procedures safely and with greater efficiency. This is a major addition to our array of cardiovascular services that we offer to the community.”
The first patient in the hybrid suite was Sidney Vicknair, for the repair of an abdominal aortic aneurysm by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Tod Engelhardt. Vicknair has a history of heart disease and has been a cardiac patient at East Jefferson since 1998, when Dr. Engelhardt performed coronary artery bypass surgery. In 2012, he required placement of a coronary stent.
After feeling good for over a year following the stent, Vicknair went to his annual cardiology physical and believed he was going to “ace it.” During the physical however, an ultrasound revealed an abdominal aortic aneurysm and a stress test further showed he had a blockage in his heart. Both needed intervention, but Dr. Engelhardt and his cardiologist, Dr. Luis Soto, decided to fix the aneurysm first and then take care of the blockage when he recovered from the aneurysm surgery.
“I was so lucky they found it when they did, because I would have dropped dead at some point,” says Vicknair. “I have tremendous trust and faith in the doctors and in the hospital. I really believe I would have been gone quite a few years ago without them.”
Dr. Engelhardt explained that the danger with aneurysms is the possibility of a rupture, which could be fatal. There are many factors that help the surgeon decide if surgery is necessary, such as being a smoker and being hypertensive, but first and foremost is the size of the aneurysm. Generally, an aneurysm over about five and a half centimeters should be surgically treated. Vicknair’s was six centimeters and he was an excellent candidate for stent graft repair of his abdominal aortic aneurysm, avoiding the traditional open procedure for abdominal aortic aneurysm repair.
“I knew we needed to do his minimally invasive surgery in the hybrid suite because it offered so many advantages,” says Dr. Engelhardt. “With the fixed imaging in place and essentially the marrying of a Cath Lab and an operating room, I, as a surgeon, can project my work on the larger screens with a higher level of clarity when compared to using portable equipment. Overall, this is a game changer that is revolutionizing cardiovascular care here at East Jefferson and around the country.”
Vicknair’s surgery to treat the aneurysm was a success. He was walking that day and went home the very next. He said he is feeling “fantastic,” getting his strength back and was grateful that the procedure was completed using only small incisions, instead of needing to be opened up through a more traditional surgery. “My heart disease is in large part due to heredity and not necessarily about diet,” he says. “So I tell my family and friends, especially if over 50 years old, to go get your annual physical, your screenings and heart tests. I was feeling good with no symptoms and look what they found. It can really save your life.”