It was a silent double threat that could have had dangerous consequences for Donald Griffin if doctors hadn’t discovered the two aneurysms in his stomach during a routine follow-up exam for an earlier, unrelated prostate procedure.
“I wouldn’t have known until it was too late,” said Griffin, 62, of New Lebanon, N.Y., one of many area residents who have experienced first-hand the benefits of having highly skilled vascular surgeons on duty at Berkshire Medical Center. An abdominal aneurysm is a weakening or bulging in the lower aorta, the garden-hose-size blood vessel that runs through the center of the chest and stomach area, supplying blood to the entire body.
In Don’s case, not one, but two aneurysms had formed without any outward symptoms, even with strenuous work he does as part of the maintenance group at Darrow School. Had they not been detected, closely monitored and ultimately repaired, they eventually could have ruptured and threatened his life. After more than two years of CT scans and non-surgical treatment – a common process for managing aneurysms – Don decided this winter to undergo repair.
He underwent what is called endovascular surgery, a minimally invasive method in which a very thin tube or catheter is inserted through an artery in the groin area and threaded up into the aorta. The weakened section is replaced with a synthetic graft attached to the catheter.
“God bless him,” said Don of his steady-handed vascular surgeon, Michael Cohn, MD, of Berkshire Surgical Associates, who performed the procedure. “He was so confident and put me so much at ease.”
It was that confidence – and the qualifications and experience behind it – that automatically convinced Don and his wife that BMC was absolutely the right place to have the surgery, within minutes of home and work.
After only two nights in the hospital, Don was ready to begin what he believes has been a remarkably quick recovery – a turnaround which he says was only possible because of the close attention he received and the precise vascular surgery he underwent at BMC.