Abdominal aortic aneurysms, potentially dangerous bulges in the artery that feeds blood to the torso and legs, occur in 2 percent to 4 percent of Americans. In recent years, minimally invasive techniques involving stents have improved safety. Yet for many patients, stent placement has not been an option because the stent itself would block blood flow.
Washington University is one of 10 centers nationwide testing new "fenestrated stents" in a clinical trial. The devices feature small openings, or fenestrations, that can be positioned to allow blood to pass into the renal arteries. Since the anatomy of the blood vessels involved varies from person to person, the stent and its openings must be custom-made for each patient.