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Will stem cells benefit patients with aortic aneurysms? 

I am a 62 year old woman. When I was 37 I had an aneurysm of the aorta and had an emergency operation in Medford, Oregon. Within a year I was sent to Houston where my surgeon did two operations (ascending and descending aorta) within in a few months of each other. I have had a CAT scan every year since. Six years ago, they discovered another aneurysm and I was operated on in Baltimore.  Doctors suspect that I will continue to have problems again and again. I have a CAT scan yearly. Now as to my question: Do you see any way now, or in the near future, that stem cells will benefit me? I know a lot of research is going on — in fact, would I be a candidate for research? Thank you for your time and will appreciate any information on the subject that you can give me.

submitted by Sandy from Bigfork, Montana on 7/9/2011


by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Guilherme Silva, MD  

Guilherme Silva, MDSandra,
Reading what you've been through reaffirms my belief on the need for innovative research in the stem cell field. You have definitely gone through a lot! Stem cells are not being utilized for the treatment of aortic aneurysms. There is, however, a possible application of the tissue engineering technology for your problem. New research has been using biological structures without cells (tracheas, for example) and re-populating those structures with the patient's own stem cells, then transplanting them.

One can envision in the future something very similar with aortas which would likely be more effective than the current grafts that we have. They would be "living" grafts.  This is not a reality yet. We do not have any studies ongoing at our center in that regard.  Keep following up with CAT scans and hopefully this fast pace research will benefit you in the future.  Hope that helps.  

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Updated July 2011
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