Minimally Invasive Aneurysm Repair Saves Life of Country Club Hills Man

It may have been a miracle that 77-year-old Joseph Busch was scheduled for cataract surgery last February. Indirectly, it saved his life.

It all began when Joe’s ophthalmologist told him to get a routine physical before surgery. Joe complied and made an appointment with internal medicine and nephrology specialist Michael Peck, M.D., in Flossmoor.

“During the exam, Dr. Peck said he felt an abdominal mass and scheduled me for an X-ray,” he explained. “I was shocked. I’d never had any symptoms.”

When Joe went for the X-ray a couple days later, the radiologist was alarmed enough by what he saw to have Joe transported by ambulance to Ingalls Memorial Hospital right then and there. At Ingalls, doctors told him he had a 10-1/8 cm aneurysm in his abdominal aorta that needed urgent repair.

An aortic aneurysm is a weakened and abnormal bulging section of the aorta, the main vessel that carries blood from the heart to the vital organs. A normal aorta is about 1 inch (2 cm) in diameter. However, an AAA can stretch the aorta beyond its safety margin and rupture, causing severe internal bleeding, shock or death.

While he braced for major surgery, doctors told Joe he was a candidate for a minimally invasive alternative called endovascular stent graft repair. Unlike open surgery, which involves a large incision and lengthy recovery, endovascular repair involves tiny incisions in the groin and the placement of a stent graft to reinforce the aneurysm and prevent rupturing. Endovascular repair is a highly effective alternative and well-suited for individuals with multiple medical conditions.

Interventional radiologist Perry Gilbert, M.D., teamed with vascular surgeon Timothy Field, M.D., and successfully performed the procedure.

“By the next day, patients are encouraged to walk, and most are discharged within 24 to 48 hours,” Dr. Gilbert explained.

But Joe’s story doesn’t end there. While he was still recovering at Ingalls, he received another shock. A CT scan taken after surgery showed a suspicious spot in the upper part of his right lung.

So a team of specialists, including pulmonologist Charles Beck, M.D., oncologist James Wallace, M.D., Dr. Peck, Dr. Field and Dr. Gilbert, collaborated and determined the tumor had to be removed.

So Joe braced for a second surgery – this one somewhat more invasive – in April. Although a large part of his right lung was removed, Joe recovered and passed his six-month follow-up with flying colors.

“What amazing collaboration among doctors,” Joe added. “If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be walking around today. I’m so grateful to all of them.”

An avid sailor who still works part-time as a franchise consultant, Joe looks forward to sailing again in the spring. Eventually, he plans to reschedule the cataract surgery that started it all.

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