In this health video learn how doctors can now fix a torn aorta without making a single incision in a patient's chest.
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Jennifer Mathews: Sam Einsidler looks perfectly healthy now. But less than a year ago, doctors told his mother he might not survive a terrible car accident. Terri Einsidle: I asked, "Is there a chance he could die?" And he said, "Absolutely!" Jennifer Mathews: Sam's aorta, which is the body's main artery tore and blood ruptured out. Difficult open heart surgery used to be the only way to repair the injury, but it can be risky and painful. Dr. David Neschis: A fair percentage can wind up paraplegic. Jennifer Mathews: But now, surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center are using a technique that does the same thing without cutting open the patient's chest. Sam Einsidler: It's pretty cool. I didn't even know I could do that. Jennifer Mathews: Doctors make a small incision in the patient's groin. Then, using X-ray guidance they feed a catheter through the blood vessels to the heart. A stent containing a fabric graft opens inside the aorta to cover the injury and allow blood to flow through it. Dr. David Neschis: It's like putting a new pipe inside the old pipe and letting it line from inside the area with the hole in it. Jennifer Mathews: Technical success with the surgery is nearly 100%, and patients recover in a few days. Contact sports are out but Sam is now back to play basketball with his brother. Terri Einsidle: He's terrific, and we know we're blessed, that we are very lucky.. Jennifer Mathews: Lucky and back to living life. This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.