News Feature | July 14, 2014

New Study Quantifies Safety Of Minimally Invasive Heart Stents

By Joel Lindsey

International Healthcare Study Ranks US Last

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine recently completed an investigation into the safety and health benefits of endovascular aortic stent grafts that had been implanted during minimally invasive surgery to fix abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Their conclusions indicated that these types of operations could be significantly safer than more invasive, open repair surgeries.

“We have known that minimally invasive procedures are safe for patients,” John Lane, director of endovascular surgery at the UCSD Health System and associate professor at the UCSD School of Medicine, said in a press release published recently on the school’s website. “It has been shown in randomized clinical trials and noted anecdotally. This is, however, the first time that we have been able to show that endovascular aneurysm repair is safer in terms of preventing complications in the hospital, as measured by patient safety indicators.”

In the study, the research team analyzed 70,946 abdominal aortic aneurysm repair surgeries that had been performed between 2003 and 2010. Using a variety of officially recorded patient safety indicators (PSIs) such as wound infection, blood infection, hip fracture, accidental puncture or laceration, transfusion reaction, and mortality, the research team attempted to quantify the overall effectiveness of endovascular aortic aneurysm repairs.

As opposed to open repair surgery, in which a large incision is made into a patient’s abdomen and the implantable graft is sewn into place, endovascular aortic aneurysm repairs involve inserting a metallic stent into the body through a blood vessel in the patient’s groin. The stent is then guided into place with the help of X-ray imaging and expanded to become fully operative.

After reviewing the data, researchers concluded that those who received the minimally invasive endovascular operation had a 42 percent reduction in preventable post-operative complications and a 72 percent reduction in overall mortality when compared to those who received open repair surgeries, according to the press release.

“All this is good news for patients because endovascular repair has become the most common treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysms,” said Lane.

The research team’s findings have been published in the most recent edition of JAMA Surgery.

“Medical errors and patient safety are an ongoing concern with any new surgical innovations,” said David C. Chang, director of outcomes research at UCSD’s School of Medicine and a co-author of the study. “This study shows the value in monitoring the safety of innovations. Patients need to keep this type of information in mind when considering different treatment options.”