ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Imagine heart surgery without anesthesia, breathing tubes and weeks of recovery time.
A new noninvasive surgery is being offered at Beaumont Hospital that has the patient awake for the procedure.
Mary Olk didn’t have any symptoms when the doctors discovered a new issue with her heart. It could have been life-threatening, but a brand new procedure saved the 80-year-old grandmother’s life.
“I was so grateful to be able to have this procedure,” Olk said. “It wasn’t scary at all.”
Olk is one of only a few dozen Beaumont patients who had heart surgery while she was awake. Doctors call it conscious sedation.
“You don’t need more general anesthesia and you don’t need more a breathing tube, which is makes your experience a little bit more pleasant,” said Dr. Alessandro Vivacqua.
Vivacqua is a heart surgeon Beaumont Hospital. When Olk came in for a regular checkup, doctors realized she would be a good candidate for the procedure.
“I had no symptoms. I had just gone for my six-month checkup from my original aortic dissection, which I had last February,” Olk said. “That’s when they found out that I had the pseudo aneurysm.”
“We can go inside the artery with this stent graft, reach the area that we want to treat, deploy this stent graft so we can have a seal on the good aorta,” Vivacqua said. “This way we prevent the blood to go in this area and further progress the disease.”
As an added bonus, doctors can talk to their patients throughout the procedure.
“We just reassure like, ‘Are you doing OK? Can you move the legs for me? You’re doing very well,’” Vivacqua said. “That’s the kind of conversation.”
And because patients aren’t fully put under, their recovery time is much faster. A traditional surgery would take up to 10 weeks for the patient to bounce back, but Olk was back home within days.
“You don’t even feel like you’ve had surgery,” Olk said. “You’re back to your normal day to day activities the time you get home.”
Olk said she’s back to walking a mile each day and her motivation was to spend time with her grandson.
A group of Beaumont Health Care Heroes received the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday afternoon.
All health care workers who received the vaccine are in the 1A high priority group, meaning they have direct or indirect exposure to patients with COVID-19 or infectious materials.