GPHC performs first life-saving abdominal aneurysm surgery


The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) has successfully completed its first abdominal aneurysm surgery to repair the major blood vessel –the aorta –which supplies blood to the entire body.

The patient, an 80-year-old female was diagnosed with infra-renal aortic aneurysm in the abdomen which happens when an area of the major vessel is enlarged. The woman’s vessel had enlarged to 6.5cm. If ruptured, it can cause life-threatening bleeding.

The endovascular surgery was completed on August 27 by General and Vascular Surgeon Dr Carlos Martin.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Dr Martin explained that there is a 95% of fatality if the vessel is ruptured; it is also a condition that is present in about 1 to 5 per cent of the population upon autopsy.

“Prior to this surgery, these patients were either sent home to die or the hospital would offer comfort measures to these patients or who could have afforded it went overseas to get this surgery done,” Dr Martin said.

The 80-year-old woman (centre) with the lead Surgeon Dr Carlos Martin (second from left) and the team of doctors.

Risk factors for infra-renal aortic aneurysm include prolonged smoking, age and family history while symptoms include back and belly pains.

Dr Martin said persons are not usually screened for the aortic aneurysm and most cases are detected when a scan is done for another health condition.

“These patients with aneurysms, they actually do not know that they have an aneurysm, it is usually an incidental finding and that was the case with our patient. She had a little bit of abdominal pain, we did a CT scan and there it was, the aneurysm.”

“what was concerning for this particular patient was the rapid growth rate over one year and she was actually symptomatic.”

Dr Carlos Martin.

Research has shown that healthy diets and exercise, avoiding tobacco products, and maintaining your blood pressure and cholesterol level can prevent aortic aneurysm, or keep it from worsening.

With the surgery now available in Guyana, Dr Martin hopes a study can be done on the prevalence of the condition here to put systems in place for others with a similar condition.

“This is an opportunity to do research in terms of what is the actual incidence of abdominal aortic aneurysm in Guyana so that we can make better clinical decisions,” the Surgeon said.

This live-saving operation was performed by Dr Martin and his team: Surgical Resident, Dr Kapil Tiwari Surgical, Transplant and Vascular Surgeon, Dr Kishore Persaud, Anesthesiologists Dr Arturo Marrero, Dr Yvette Martin and Dr Youlanda Hendricks, Nurse Simone Henry (Anesthesia student), Dr Maxine Parks and Scrub Nurse Shamin Leila.

The team of doctors

Generally, arteries have strong and thick walls, but certain ailments within someone’s DNA can result in the arteries weakening, which causes the force of the blood to constantly push against the enfeebled walls triggering them to swell, and subsequently, an aneurysm.

Dr Martin did an endovascular surgery which includes the placement of a stent-graft (fabric-covered tube) into the aneurysm through a small hole in the blood vessel. This was a less invasive procedure with faster recovery time.

Director of the General Surgery Department at the hospital Navindranauth Rambarran lauded the teams’ work for pioneering the life-saving surgery in Guyana.

Chief Executive Officer at GPHC, brigadier (ret’d) George Lewis said the hospital completed 1,344 surgeries so far for 2020.

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