July 8, 2016 — Kirk Schoenherr, 56, of Clinton Township, Mich., recently became just the second patient at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, to receive conscious sedation for thoracic aortic aneurism repair. Conscious sedation employs a combination of medicines that block pain and allow patients to relax and remain awake during a medical procedure.
Though many hospitals offer minimally invasive repair of the descending thoracic aorta, it is believed that Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, is the only one in the state to combine it with conscious sedation.
Not having to go under general anesthesia was a big relief,” said Schoenherr. “I was more alert afterwards and able to enjoy a greater feeling of awareness, contributing to less anxiety. Being intubated scratches your throat and is painful. And once the tube is out, it’s harder to breath.
“Most importantly, since I wasn’t intubated, I could immediately return to my regular diet,” Schoenherr said.
Schoenherr began experiencing pain related to his aortic ulcer this past Easter. He was at risk for a rupture, which often occurs without warning and leads to sudden death. The problem was diagnosed by emergency center staff at Beaumont Hospital, Troy, and surgically repaired June 1 at Royal Oak.
This multidisciplinary approach to aortic repair combines the expertise of Beaumont’s chief of vascular surgery, O. William Brown, M.D., and cardiac surgeons Alessandro Vivacqua, M.D., and Jeffrey Altshuler, M.D.
“Conscious sedation eliminates the risks of general anesthesia,” Vivacqua said. “The patient doesn’t have to be intubated or placed on a ventilator. There are no concerns regarding decrease in blood pressure or heart rate. Conscious sedation is safe and much more comfortable.”
Additionally, because the patient is awake during the procedure, the surgical team is able to closely monitor, diagnose and treat possible spinal cord complications, Brown said.
“Beaumont is at the forefront of reducing overall surgical risk and is constantly working to make procedures less invasive,” Brown said.
For more information: www.beaumont.org