Skill, Technology, and Teamwork: Dale’s Endovascular Aneurism Repair
In early March 2023, Dr. Luis Figueroa, a vascular surgeon at Humber, received a call from another hospital a few hours outside of Toronto seeking treatment for a patient they didn’t have the technology or expertise to help. The patient, Dale, had arrived at the hospital with chest and back pain that turned out to be a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurism—a life threatening condition that required immediate intervention. The local doctors feared that Dale would not survive an open surgery to fix the aneurysm, so a less invasive endovascular repair was the only option.
Dr. Figueroa immediately accepted Dale’s transfer and things moved quickly. While Dale was being transported to Humber by Ornge helicopter and ambulance, Dr. Figueroa and the team at Humber put an operating room on hold and began to prepare. The team would be operating in one of Humber’s Interventional Radiology (IR) Suites—a cross between an operating room and medical imaging suite in which surgeons can simultaneously see, diagnose and operate, all in one room.
When the ambulance arrived at Humber, the paramedics brought Dale directly to the IR Suite where Dr. Figueroa and his talented team were ready and waiting.
“I immediately realized how challenging Dale’s surgery would be,” said Dr. Figueroa. “His blood pressure was dangerously low, and when we examined the rupture in his abdominal area it was 5x its normal size.”
Dr. Figueroa had called his colleague, Dr. Asem Saleh, to help with the surgery. The first step for the vascular surgeons was to block the ruptured aorta so blood could be directed to major organs like the heart, the brain and the lungs. This was done by making a pinpoint incision in the groin area and using x-ray technology to gently guide a wire and balloon to the ruptured section of the aorta.
Once the balloon was inflated and the aneurysm was blocked, the repair work began. This involved making an incision on the other side of Dale’s groin in order to guide another wire with balloons to the aorta to create a permanent seal at the site of the aneurysm, after which blood could pass by again. (Click here to watch a short video on this incredible procedure!)
The surgery was a success and after four days in the ICU, Dale spent just under two weeks recovering at Humber. He was then transferred back to the hospital closer to his home for more recovery and rehab.
“In addition to help from Dr. Saleh, I was supported by an incredible team of nurses. As well, Dr. Colin Suen, the lead anaesthesiologist on this surgery, worked hard and with incredible skill to make sure the patient was stable throughout the procedure—no small feat,” recalls Dr. Figueroa. “After performing one of the most challenging surgeries of my career, it was so rewarding to see Dale leaving the hospital with his family.”
“The fact that I would not be here today had it not been for the extraordinary skill of Dr. Figueroa and his team is not lost on me,” says Dale. “The care I received at Humber River Hospital was second to none. My family and I are eternally grateful.”
The Humber Difference: Vascular Surgery
Our donors have helped to enable our staff to provide the very best in patient care, serving thousands of people in our community. You have saved lives. Here’s how our Vascular Surgery Program is excelling with your help:
- Most Vascular surgeries at Humber are performed in one of our five Interventional Radiology (IR) Suites – a cross between an operating room and medical imaging suite, so surgeons can see, diagnose and operate all in one room, all at one time.
- The hybrid rooms are sterile, and always surgery-ready, so surgeons can use the room for imaging and then operate on the spot if need be, without having to book a separate OR.
- Exams and procedures are performed in our IR suites across vascular surgery, radiology and cardiology. Humber is one of the few hospitals in Ontario whose interventional radiology area is shared by three different departments.
- Humber has 3 Discovery IGS imagers, a powerful imaging system that helps doctors use minimally invasive techniques to treat heart and blood vessel problems. When we opened in 2015, we were the first hospital in the GTA to have more than one, helping to pave the way for excellence and leadership in this specialty.