Vascular Surgery Advancements Keep Patients Close to Home

Care Worth Sharing

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Eleanor and Sonny Mistretta of Hollywood, Maryland

“Would you recommend this doctor to a friend?”  It’s a common question found on satisfaction surveys delivered to inboxes or mailboxes. A better, more telling question – especially in the world of health care - might be, “Would you recommend this doctor to your family?”

Following the care she received from Arthur Flatau, MD, general and vascular surgeon at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, Eleanor Mistretta, of Hollywood, Maryland, answered that second question with a resounding, “Yes!”

Eleanor came to MedStar St. Mary’s Emergency Department in February with stomach pains. Dr. Flatau removed her gallbladder the next day. “We were having a discussion about surgery afterward,” said Eleanor, “and I asked him if he did aneurisms and he said, ‘Yes, I do.’ ”

Eleanor’s husband of 54 years, Sonny, knew he would eventually need  surgery for his aortic aneurism, which had been found by his urologist about four years ago, but he admits to trying “to stretch it out”  to delay the procedure. “When I did Eleanor’s surgery and everything went ok, she asked me about Sonny’s abdominal aortic aneurysm and I explained to her that was actually the type of surgery I was brought here to do,” said Dr. Flatau.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when a section of the aorta, the main blood vessel to the abdomen, pelvis and legs, enlarges. Often discovered through an ultrasound or CT scan, patients who have these types of aneurisms are typically followed closely by their doctor until the aneurysm reaches between 5 and 5.5 cm.

“Once the aneurysm is a size we know puts the patient at risk, we will fix the aneurysm electively,” said Dr. Flatau.

After recently traveling into Washington, D.C., for her own health concerns, Eleanor didn’t want Sonny’s surgery done in the city. “I preferred he have the surgery done right here in St. Mary’s,” said Eleanor. “The hospital’s only two miles away!”

Sonny’s surgery was performed on a Thursday morning in mid April, and he was released from the hospital late Friday night. “When we talked, Dr. Flatau told me exactly what was going to be done and showed us the stent he was going to use,” said Sonny. “He told me if the aneurysm ruptured, it would be an emergency situation, and if I went to the emergency room, there might not be a doctor available who could fix it.”

 “If a patient comes in with a rupture, we will certainly treat it here as long as it’s within our capabilities,” said Dr. Flatau. “It’s actually safer to treat patients here than to send them somewhere else. The quicker a patient goes from the ER to the OR, the better their outcome.

“We have definitely increased the complexity of what we are doing here and the bottom line is that we are able to do much of the same surgery here that is also done in larger hospitals,” said Dr. Flatau, “and we are happy to do it if that’s what the patient wants.”

Sharing More than a Brotherly Bond

Brothers Bernie, left, and Robbie Baird.
Brothers Bernie, left, and Robbie Baird.

When you are brothers you share a lot of things – family, hobbies, friends, likes and dislikes. But the Baird brothers of Avenue shared a medical condition which would ultimately lead them both to John Harvey, MD, general and vascular surgeon with MedStar Shah Medical Group. Both brothers suffer from peripheral artery disease, a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head.

Dr. Harvey was recommended to Bernie Baird by his primary care physician after Bernie started having intense pain in the back of his left leg. “I would work a little bit and it would start hurting so badly it was unbelievable,” said Bernie, who is 65. “I didn’t know what it was and at first I thought it might have something to do with my back.”

Testing determined Bernie had a blocked artery behind his knee. Metal stints or a balloon procedure called angioplasty are often the first choices for opening a clogged artery. Relatively simple procedures, patients usually don’t require lengthy hospital stays or long recovery times. “He put a stent in and it worked well for a couple of weeks, then it started to hurt again,” said Bernie.  “My cardiologist said that for some reason my body just rejected that stent.”

“With stents or angioplasty, patients are in and out,” said Dr. Harvey. “We can fix the problem right away and they get better right away.  The down side is they don’t necessarily last as long.”

When Bernie went back to Dr. Harvey, the decision was made to perform a bypass of the clogged artery. “The bypass surgery is a bigger operation and may require several days in the hospital and maybe rehabilitation,” said Dr. Harvey, “but it is more durable in the long term.”

Much like his brother, Robbie Baird was also looking for a long-term solution to similar issues he was facing. Almost 20 years ago, Robbie, 60, had an aorta bypass surgery, which is a y-shaped graft that bypasses the blocked arteries in order to return blood flow to the legs.

“I wish Dr. Harvey had been here 20 years ago,” said Robbie. “I had been through it before and I knew what it felt like. I couldn’t work or do anything.”

“The surgery he had worked very well, but it doesn’t necessarily last for many years. Robbie’s concern was that he might have to go up to Washington to have a big redo surgery,” said Dr. Harvey. “We decided to insert a tube to take the blood from the left arm down to the left leg. The good thing about that surgery is it is fairly simple and it doesn’t involve being in the hospital for weeks.”

Robbie was in the hospital for several days and was out of work for a few weeks while he recovered. Today, he and his brother, are both back to their normal lives. “We can do complex surgeries at the hospital now, that keep patients in the county,” said Dr. Harvey. “We can take care of things that have been fixed a long time ago and do the revision or the repeat procedure and people can recover very well. If we can find a surgery that can fix their problem and keep them in the county, I am sure they will be very happy.”

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute Partnership

 

“When I first started seeing patients in Southern Maryland, they kept saying they had to go ‘up the road’ and it took me a month or two to figure out they meant they had to go to D.C.,” said vascular surgeon Arthur Flatau, MD, who moved to St. Mary’s County in 2014 after having practiced in Pennsylvania and Florida.

“I think people are starting to realize they don’t have to go to D.C. We are doing procedures in St. Mary’s we haven’t done in the past,” Dr. Flatau said. “The hospital has seen many advancements that help us perform more complex procedures here,” said John Harvey, MD, who has been performing surgery at the hospital for 11 years.

Dr. Flatau and Dr. Harvey coordinate patient care through the MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute, a large network of more than 140 cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and vascular surgeons, who provide the full continuum of care for patients throughout the MedStar system. The MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute offers patients access to some of the nation’s most experienced specialists and the services of the 10 MedStar hospitals in Greater Washington and Central Maryland.

“It is a joint effort,” said Dr. Harvey. “We can easily make calls and have patients seen by doctors at other hospitals if needed.” 

“Our group works seamlessly together to deliver care,” said Dr. Flatau. “If patients from St. Mary’s are operated on at other hospitals, their surgeon can call and ask me if I will follow up with them. I always say, ‘Absolutely,’ because it’s easier for the patient and we are trying to provide as much care here locally as possible.”

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Arthur Flatau, MD
MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute
General and Vascular Surgery
Medical School: University of South Florida
Internship/Residency: University of South Florida
Fellowship Program: University of South Florida
Specialty Physicians at St. Mary’s
25500 Point Lookout Road
Outpatient Pavilion, Suite 250, Leonardtown, MD 20650
Phone: (240) 434-4072, Fax: (240) 434-7651

 

 

 

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John Harvey, MD
MedStar Shah Medical Group
General and Vascular Surgery
Medical School: University of Edinburgh
Residency Program: Montefiore Medical Center
Fellowship Program: Englewood Hospital & Medical Center
Philip J. Bean Medical Center
24035 Three Notch Rd, Hollywood, MD 20636
Phone: (301) 373-7720, Fax: (301) 373-6700

 

 

 

Visit MedStarStMarys.Org/Vascular to learn more about vascular surgery at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.

dare to care

Non-Invasive Procedure to Repair Abdonimal Aortic Aneurysm Now Offered

 

During a follow-up visit with William Hubbard, vascular surgeon Arthur Flatau III, MD, talks with the veteran after a walk together at the VA Hospital’s campus in Charlotte Hall, Maryland. William is recuperating from an endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) performed by Dr. Flatau. Minimally invasive, EVAR surgery is now available conveniently close to home at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.
During a follow-up visit with William Hubbard, vascular surgeon Arthur
Flatau III, MD, talks with the veteran after a walk together at the VA Hospital’s campus
in Charlotte Hall, Maryland. William is recuperating from an endovascular aneurysm
repair (EVAR) performed by Dr. Flatau. Minimally invasive, EVAR surgery is now available
conveniently close to home at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.

EVAR Procedure Can Save Time, Travel and Lives

A newer, non-invasive surgical procedure to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm is now being offered at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, saving patients both recovery and travel time. The repair procedure is known as EVAR or endovascular aneurysm repair.

According to Arthur Flatau III, MD, vascular surgeon at MedStar St. Mary’s, an abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakening in the body’s main artery.  Repairing an abdominal aortic aneurysm used to require a painful incision from the breast bone to the pubic bone and an extensive, complicated recovery, including days in intensive care and, quite possibly, time spent on a ventilator. It also meant traveling to Washington, D.C., or Baltimore for the procedure.

Thanks to stent technology, the surgeon now makes only a one or two inch-long incision and places a catheter inside the patient’s aorta. A device designed to support the artery from the inside and secure the weak artery is laced through the catheter.

“The recovery from an EVAR procedure is faster and much less painful than the traditional surgery,” said Dr. Flatau. “A healthy patient can typically go home in the next day or two.”

An aortic aneurysm may not cause symptoms until it begins to leak or expand. “A patient may happen to be undergoing diagnostic screenings for seemingly unrelated problems, such as back or kidney issues, before an aneurysm is detected,” said Dr. Flatau. 

For this reason, MedStar St. Mary’s offers free vascular screening programs twice a month at its medical office in Charlotte Hall, Maryland. During the ultrasound screenings, medical technicians look for carotid blockages or stenosis, aneurysms, and check the blood pressure of the arms and legs to ensure there are no blockages.

“I am pleased to work with MedStar St. Mary’s Perioperative Team and Interventional Radiology Team to deliver noninvasive EVAR surgery and other vascular procedures and preventive measures closer to home for our Southern Maryland patients,” said Dr. Flatau.

Now Open!

New Specialty Physicians Suite

The newly expanded Specialty Physicians at St. Mary’s suite on the second floor of the hospital’s Outpatient Pavilion is open. The combined suite of offices now encompasses an entire wing of the second floor, and offers additional exam, treatment and procedure rooms that allow for increased patient privacy. The space also includes a separate patient reception and waiting area as well as restrooms for patients.

The Specialty Physicians’ suite serves the patients of the following physicians:

Do you suffer from vascular disease? 

Learn more about conditions and treatment options here.

Free Vascular Screening Event Offered July 15

Leonardtown, Maryland (July 1, 2015) – A free vascular screening event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15, in the Outpatient Pavilion of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, Maryland. This MedStar Health event will be hosted in collaboration with MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital and Dare to C.A.R.E., a free program offered through the non-profit Heart Health Foundation.

MedStar Health is working in affiliation with Dare to C.A.R.E to educate communities about the risks of vascular disease and to uncover arterial blockages that may otherwise go undetected. A vascular screening patient recently expressed…

“I thought I was extremely healthy - I did the screening just in case. I had no signs, no symptoms.  The screening revealed a blockage of 80 percent in my artery.  I could have had a massive stoke without even knowing why.  Because it was caught, I received immediate treatment. When dealing with something like this, you may not have a second chance. Just because you feel well, doesn’t mean all is well inside."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 610,000 people die of cardiovascular disease in the United States every year and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. If you are between the ages of 50 and 80, smoke, have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you are at a greater risk for vascular disease.

The vascular screening event will offer free blood pressure checks, non-invasive ultrasound scans of arteries in the neck and ankles, and a free ankle brachial index (ABI). An ABI measures resting blood pressure at the ankle and in the arm. The results are used to predict the severity of peripheral arterial disease, which can be linked to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

During the event, Arthur Flatau III, MD, a board-certified vascular surgeon at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, will offer an educational lecture on peripheral vascular disease. Dr. Flatau has more than 30 years of experience in conventional vascular surgical options and minimally invasive endovascular procedures. Dr. Flatau practices full time at the Specialty Physicians of St. Mary’s located in the Outpatient Pavilion of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.

Presentations about nutrition and smoking cessation will also be offered during the educational portion of MedStar St. Mary’s program which will begin at 6 p.m. The vascular screening event is a cost-free community service, but those wishing to participate must make an appointment. No insurance information is required.

For more information, or to make an appointment, call 410-573-9483, Ext. 202.

Cutline:

Arthur Flatau III, MD, a board-certified vascular surgeon at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, will offer an educational lecture on peripheral vascular disease during a free Vascular Screening Event to be held July 15 at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, Maryland.

About MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital

MedStar St. Mary's Hospital (MSMH) is a full-service community hospital, delivering state-of-the-art emergency, acute inpatient and outpatient care in Leonardtown, Maryland. Nestled in a waterside community, MedStar St. Mary's provides advanced technology with a dedication to excellence in all services provided. The not-for-profit hospital has been named among the nation’s Top 100 Hospitals™ and is an eight time recipient of the prestigious Delmarva Medicare Excellence Award. In addition, MSMH received the Maryland Performance Excellence award at the Platinum level in 2014 – the highest in the state. Our staff is committed to providing quality and compassionate medical care for all patients by coupling innovation with our outstanding team of Medical Staff members, associates and volunteers. Visit MedStarStMarys.org to learn more.

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