Australian first surgery performed at Fiona Stanley Hospital

Two men sit at a desk in front of a computer
Jacob Gardner and Fionat Stanley Hospital vascular surgeon Professor Richards
May 13, 2019

A surgical team at Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) has become the first in Australia to perform an innovative procedure to treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Following a five-year clinical trial, FSH vascular surgeon Professor Richards and his team inserted the first ‘Abre’ stent, changing the life of 21 year old deep vein thrombosis (DVT) sufferer Jacob Gardner.

Jacob developed DVT two years ago, causing swelling and severe bruising in his leg, leaving him unable to work full time, play sports, travel, or get outdoors.

Professor Richards brought the latest technology from two trials he conducted in Europe, where he was one of a few select surgeons worldwide pioneering the technology.

“The ‘Abre’ stent is inserted using keyhole surgery, reopening the iliofemoral vein in the leg which was destroyed by a DVT. This supports the vein to increase blood flow between the legs and the heart,” Professor Richards said.

“While many people receive stents to open arteries in their heart, keeping a vein open is harder because it is so much bigger and collapses more easily.”

Professor Richards said the treatment was suitable for around one in five patients with a DVT.

“This is for the most serious and large DVT that impact between the groin and the heart. While it won’t work for everyone with a DVT, it is effective for the most serious cases.”

Professor Richards described DVT as a ‘hidden disease.’

“After a major DVT, many people suffer in silence. Half of people are left with with disabling symptoms and swelling for life. They end up not being able to work, have very restricted activity and unable to maintain a normal lifestyle,” Professor Richards said.

“Being able to offer people like Jacob the ability to return to normal function is the very reason I have committed myself to research.”

DVT affects more than 11,000 Australians a year and occurs when a blood clot in the deep venous system causes painful and dangerous swelling.

FSH sees about 150 to 200 DVT patients a year, a quarter of which are left with chronic discomfort and a symptom, as there was previously no treatment available.

“With  this treatment we are able to not only help patients return to a normal lifestyle but also stop a chronic condition and prevent patients requiring more hospital appointments, follow up and treatment, so it is a win for the hospital and patients.”

Eight weeks on from surgery, Jacob has a marathon in his sights and Dr Richards has performed two more ‘Abre’ stent surgeries, forever changing the lives of his patients.

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