Geri Shufelberger-56

Date of AD=8/31/2017

Type of AD=Ascending Type A

Hello – I had a Type A aortic dissection repair August 31, 2017 at Baylor in Dallas. My surgeon, Juan MacHannaford, told me the dissection was from top to bottom. I was flown there from Pampa, TX due to the wonderful diagnostic abilities of my cardiologist in our local emergency room.

His quick action saved my life. I had a history of untreated high blood pressure for approximately 3-5 years before beginning treatment in October, 2013. When he saw me in the ER, I had experiences sever stabbing pain from my throat down to my stomach and almost immediately lost feeling in my legs. I also eventually had vomiting and lost consciousness.

My surgeon almost immediately from visual examination and I am not sure what other indicators, told me when I saw him a week after being released from the hospital, he felt 99% sure I have Marfans Syndrome. I am female, 6′ tall with a long torso, arms and legs.

I had a great uncle who had a aortic aneurysm in the 1960’s. That is the only family history I am aware of. Both of my parents are deceased and there are no other living relatives to talk to about this. I have had retina detachments in both eyes and a vitriol hemorrhage in one eye, all happening within 8 to 10 years intervals, starting when I was in my mid 30’s. I have two sons who are 6’2″ and 6’5″.

The surgeon has recommended genetic testing for them. I have changed my eating habits more than what they were, increased my exercise and made other life style changes, all thanks to a wonderful cardiac rehab program I have been attending since the surgery.

I will have a CT scan in 6 months and then once a year for the rest of my life. My scan October 26th, showed 3.2 in my abdomen and 3.4 in my chest. I know this is not something I should think about a lot, but I feel good about my future as long as I keep my scans up.

Are aneurysms common for someone in my situation? Thank you for any input you can give.

Answer from Dr. Liang:


I would certainly agree with your surgeons concerns about Marfan syndrome as a cause cause of the dissection. After the dissection the part of the aorta that is dissected beyond the repair is at increased risk for aneurysm formation so the regular CT’s recommended by your surgeon make sense. We also recommend very rigorous blood pressure control at this point to reduce the stress on the aorta.
Getting evaluated for a genetic cause of the dissection such as Marfan syndrome is very important, especially since you have children. If you can I would recommend seeing Dianna Milewicz at UT Houston.

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