Wireless sensor allows monitoring of aneurysm with wave of wand


Vascular surgeons from the Health Science Center, operating at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System’s Audie Murphy Hospital Division, implanted a new type of wireless sensor into two patients. The sensor monitors the blood pressure around stent-graft repairs of abdominal aortic aneurysms. Aneurysms are weak, ballooning places in artery walls that can be fatal if they rupture.

The San Antonio patients are the first in South Texas – and are among the first 100 people in the world – to receive the wireless sensor implants, said lead surgeon Boulos Toursarkissian, M.D., associate professor of surgery and chief of vascular surgery at the Health Science Center.

The devices, made by Georgia-based CardioMEMS Inc., enable doctors to check the blood pressure at the aneurysm repair site with the wave of an electronic wand over the skin. The wand sends a signal to the sensor to provide a pressure reading. “Previously, we monitored patients with CT scans, but this approach is far more practical and sensitive,” Dr. Toursarkissian said.

“We repair aneurysms with stent grafts, which are artery-sized tubes covered with fabric to channel the blood and relieve the pressure on the weakened portion of the vessel wall,” he said. “CT scans show us the dimensions of the aneurysm, but they don’t tell us the blood pressure at the site after the stent graft has been placed. This new method gives us a much more dynamic indicator of the status of the aneurysm and therefore the safety of our patients. This is a great advance in the care of patients with aneurysms. It can help with early detection of any problems in the stent graft.”

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