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7/7/2016 8:12:59 PM Reporting from Detroit,MI
Patients reap benefits of eliminating general anesthesia for aortic aneurysm repair
7/7/2016 8:12:59 PM
Kirk was just the second patient at Beaumont to receive conscious sedation for this procedure.

Patients reap benefits of eliminating general anesthesia for aortic aneurysm repair

Beaumont Health

Patients reap benefits of eliminating general anesthesia for aortic aneurysm repair

Thursday, July 07, 2016


Shortly after having surgery to repair a damaged section of his aorta, Kirk Schoenherr, 56, of Clinton Township was enjoying a turkey sandwich. Had the Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak patient been placed under general anesthesia, which is the standard for this procedure, he would have had to sip his first meal through a straw.

“Not having to go under general anesthesia was a big relief,” said Schoenherr, who became just the second patient at Beaumont, and likely in Michigan, to receive conscious sedation for thoracic aortic aneurysm 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.

“I was more alert afterwards and able to enjoy a greater feeling of awareness, contributing to less anxiety,” Schoenherr continued. “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 vascular and cardiac surgeons.

“Conscious sedation eliminates the risks of general anesthesia,” Dr. 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.”

Conscious sedation is safe and much more comfortable.

Dr. Vivacqua

Additionally, because the patient is awake during the procedure, the surgical team is able to closely monitor, diagnose and treat possible spinal cord complications, Dr. Brown said.

“Beaumont is at the forefront of reducing overall surgical risk and is constantly working to make procedures less invasive,” Dr. Brown said. 


Patients like Schoenherr are definitely enjoying the benefits.

“I recently had energy to walk around the Detroit Zoo with family and friends,” said Schoenherr who plans to return to work sometime in July. “Life is getting back to normal.”