Device image ©2013 W.L. Gore and Associates, Inc.

A tight seal

Investigational device treats thoracic aortic aneurysms endovascularly

issue 21 | Spring-Summer 2014

Thoracic aortic aneurysms that encroach on the aortic arch are challenging anomalies that are very difficult to treat. They leave physicians no choice but to use more invasive surgical techniques or to cover the aortic branch vessel.

An investigational device — the GORE® TAG® Thoracic Branch Endoprosthesis — opens the door to a safe and less invasive treatment alternative by sealing off the hard-to-treat section of the aorta.

Himanshu Patel, M.D., was part of the team that performed the world's first implantation of the device.


Himanshu Patel, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon; David M. Williams, M.D., vascular interventional radiologist; and Jon Eliason, M.D., vascular surgeon, performed the world's first implantation of the device at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center. The procedure marks the beginning of "Evaluation of the GORE® TAG® Thoracic Branch Endoprosthesis in the Treatment of Proximal Descending Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms," a U.S.-based, multi-center feasibility study sponsored by W.L. Gore & Associates.

Through thoracic branch technology and design, the device fits the unique characteristics of the descending aorta, allowing physicians to treat a subset of patients who could not be considered for total endovascular repair in the past. It may reduce the need for invasive surgical procedures commonly required today, thus reducing the complications associated with treatment of this complex disease.

Thoracic aortic aneurysms are less common than abdominal aortic aneurysms, but a TAA rupture remains a fatal event. The risk of rupture and a patient's overall health determine whether the patient is a candidate for surgery.


Endovascular repair uses real-time X-ray and guidewires to help deliver a graft via catheter to exclude the lesion inside the diseased aorta, making a new path for blood to flow.

"We were able to successfully treat the first patient in the study using endovascular means only," says Patel. "These results demonstrate the feasibility of using branched stent-grafts to treat aortic aneurysms that involve the left subclavian artery." Patel leads a multidisciplinary team that will coordinate the study at U-M, one of only six hospitals in the country using the investigational device.

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