TTUHSC Physician first in Panhandle Region to perform vascular procedure


Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Wei Li, M.D., MPH is a vascular surgeon and associate professor of surgery at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine. He is also the first surgeon in the Panhandle area certified in the FEVAR technique, an FDA-approved, minimally invasive procedure that repairs an aneurysm in the aorta, TTUHSC announced.

The aorta is the largest artery in the body, TTUHSC said. It delivers oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle of the heart to important organs such as the kidneys, brain, muscles and various other organs via an extensive network of smaller arterioles and capillaries.

According to TTUSHSC officials, if an area of the aorta weakens, a balloon-like bulge which is called an aortic aneurysm can form. If the bulge forms in the lower part of the aorta, it can result in an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Dr. Li said smoking is the biggest risk factor for developing an aortic aneurysm. He also said that elderly white males appear to have a higher risk of developing abdominal aneurysms.

“If the patient has a family history of aneurysms, that individual also has a higher risk of
developing aneurysms,” Li said.

In many cases, patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms remain symptom-free until they rupture or just prior to doing so. According to Dr. Li, once this happens, a patient may experience sudden, intense and persistent abdominal or back pain with a tearing sensation, low blood pressure and rapid pulse.

Blood clots are a significant risk factor in patients with aortic aneurysms. Dr. Li said when a blood clot breaks loose from the inside wall of an aneurysm and blocks a blood vessel elsewhere in the body, it can travel away from aneurysm and reduce or block blood flow to organs and limbs.

According to TTUHSC officials, several studies have shown FEVAR to be safer than open surgery to treat complex aneurysms because FEVAR reduces the risk of death and minimizes other complications and the need for blood transfusions.

Another benefit of the FEVAR technique, Dr. Li said, is the possibility of a reduced hospital stay for patients post-surgery.

“After the FEVAR procedure, the patient can be released from the hospital as early as the next
day after surgery,” Li added.

Before joining TTUHSC, Dr. Li performed the FEVAR procedure since 2015 in other major academic medical centers, TTUHSC said.

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