(KTVI) - Some of you viewers have been asking about Bobby Hughes. Our overnight guy covering breaking news has been gone for a few weeks. After a health scare, he's back manning the new Nissan Rogue Runner.
Bobby was experiencing leg pain after aggravating an old back injury. He went to St. Anthony's Medical Center for an MRI. This time, it was the doctor delivering the news, and it wasn't good. During the MRI, doctors spotted an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a dangerous bulge in the aorta. The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygen-filled blood from the heart to all parts of the body. In the abdomen, the aorta splits into iliac arteries which carry blood to the legs.
Surgeons usually operate when the bulge gets to 5-1/2 cm in men and 5 cm in women. These patients have a 10 percent chance of a rupture in the next year. Only about ten percent of patients survive a rupture. Bobby's aneurysm was 6 cm giving him a 20-percent chance of rupture in the next year. The scary thing about these aneurysms is they don't usually produce symptoms until they rapidly expand or they rupture. Oftentimes it's too late.
Dr. Brian Peterson, a SluCare vascular surgeon repaired Bobby's aneurysm using something called a Gore Excluder stent graft to basically re-line the aorta from the inside and relieve the pressure on the weakened artery walls producing the aneurysm It's a flexible device, shaped like an upside down "y", that has a gortex or waterproof covering.
As Dr. Peterson explains, surgeons go in through two small incisions in the femoral arteries in the groin with some wires and catheters. The stent is compressed into a delivery catheter that allows them to put it up through a blood vessel and position it just below the kidney arteries. It expands and tiny hooks hold it in place. The blood then flows through the stent and the aneurysm sack eventually shrinks. The surgery takes about two hours. Dr. Peterson says 90 percent of patients go home the next day, usually just needing Tylenol for any discomfort. They can usually go back to their normal routine after a week or two.
It took Bobby a little longer to return to work because he also had back surgery to fix his original problem that prompted the MRI that discovered the aneurysm. That's how most people discover this life-threatening problem. Some 200,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with abdominal aortic aneurysms each year. 15,000 die each year from a rupture.
People at risk for abdominal aortic aneurysms are usually over 60, Bobby is 58, more often men than women have a family history or are smokers. Dr. Peterson says smoking more than a hundred cigarettes in your lifetime puts you at risk.
He recommends you get tested if you're in the high risk group. It's a simple ultrasound like they do on pregnant women and takes about ten minutes and many insurance companies cover it. It could save your life.
Bobby says he smoked for years, but no more. He's grateful for a second chance and is looking forward to driving the Nissan Rogue Runner chasing down breaking news overnight and bringing it to you live.