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Local Patient is Fan of EVAR Surgery at St. James

April 23, 2013
Local Patient is Fan of EVAR Surgery Craig Koppenberg, 66, wasn’t expecting to hear that a diagnostic CT scan had revealed an aneurysm in his abdominal aorta. He also wasn’t expecting to find that he could receive state-of-the-art endovascular aneurysm repair surgery at St. James Healthcare in Butte. Koppenberg’s physicians first discovered his aneurysm during a diagnostic CT scan, performed in Everett, Wash., in 2008. At the time, Koppenberg’s aneurysm was still small and his physician recommended monitoring it with yearly CT scans. He was warned that if the aneurysm continued to grow to reach 5 centimeters (2 inches), it would need to be surgically repaired to decrease the risk of a life-threatening rupture. Each year, Koppenberg went in for CT scan screening. As the size of the aneurysm crept toward the danger zone, his fear increased. “My worry all the time was the aneurysm. You know it’s there and it’s not going away by itself,” he said. By June 2011, Koppenberg and his wife, Cathy, had retired and moved to Montana. His next CT scan in September 2012 showed that his aneurysm had reached 5.7 cm. He was referred to Butte vascular and thoracic surgeon, Dr. Thomas Aufiero, who showed him his CT scan results. “I knew once he mentioned the 5.7 (cm) that it was in the area that they like to do something about it,” he said. Dr. Aufiero explained to Koppenberg that he was a perfect candidate for a less invasive form of aneurysm surgery, called EVAR. With EVAR, both the incisions and the length of the procedure would be less than a traditional surgical aneurysm repair. The less invasive procedure would also result in a quicker recovery. Koppenberg went home and began searching for information on the procedure on the Internet. Impressed with what he found out about EVAR and about Dr. Aufiero and the availability of EVAR at St. James, he scheduled his surgery for the end of February. “It happened pretty quickly. I spent the night and I was ready to go the next day,” he said. Koppenberg’s recovery was swift. A month after surgery, he reported that he was feeling “super.” “It was a good experience for me,” he said. Koppenberg has become an advocate of the procedure and for aneurysm screening. “I recommended it to my brother. It could be genetic. I said ‘get to your doctor and get a CT scan!’”