Wireless Sensor That Could Save Your Life - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/5/04

Wireless Sensor That Could Save Your Life

A new sensor can pick up the slightest change in patients who suffer from Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm or Triple A.

Gene Zeppernick has a passion for fixing cars both old and new. He diagnoses the problem, then gets to work. So, when Gene was faced with a life-threatening aneurysm, like all good mechanics, he said: "okay, let's get it fixed."

"I had no fear. I knew what I had. I know what happens if you don't get it taken care of, and I'm not ready to go yet," says Zeppernick.

An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, or Triple A, is an abnormal ballooning of the abdominal portion of the aorta, which is the major artery of the heart. If too much pressure builds, the aneurysm can burst. Since often there are no symptoms, a Triple A can sneak up on you, and half the patients who suffer this kind of rupture die.

"If the pressure in the aneurysm sac is not diminished, then, functionally, we have not corrected the patient's problem, and we've allowed them to remain with a significant pressure in the aneurysm sac, which is the driving force behind the expansion of the aneurysm," says Dr. Daniel Clair, Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Clair is implanting a dime-sized sensor in the aneurysm sac to pick up even the slightest change. They activate the sensor by holding a tennis racket-shaped device over the abdomen, which displays the pressure readings.

"So, ideally, what we would like to see is that the pressure sensor gives us the signal that the pressure has decreased dramatically in the aneurysm sac outside of the stent graft," says Dr. Clair.

Gene can't feel the sensor, but he says he can feel the benefits.

"My aneurysm has already started deflating. The pressure has dropped," says Zepperneck.

Gene is the first person in the U.S. to get this new wireless sensors, but the device has been successfully used in 12 patients in South America, so the FDA has given the green light for this investigation at the Cleveland Clinic and the sensor is expected to be approved for widespread use sometime next year.

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