It’s been more than five years since CTVS was the first practice in Central Texas to pioneer use of the GORE® TAG® Thoracic Branch Endoprosthesis (TBE) in a pivotal research study for treating aortic disease.

More recently, our own board-certified cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons Dr. Mark Felger and Dr. Nicolas Zea became the first physicians in Williamson County to use the TBE on a trauma patient.

The TBE is an innovative device designed to repair damage to the thoracic aorta, the largest artery in the heart, and in the case of 41-year-old Alfred Peterson, it was a lifesaver.

Alfred was involved in a traumatic motorcycle crash in May which left him with multiple injuries, including several broken bones and severe damage to his aorta.

Drs. Felger and Zea performed the surgery to repair the torn aorta using the TBE device.

“The tear happened in one of the layers of the aorta,” explained Dr. Zea. “Blood was flowing quickly and getting in between those layers which caused an aneurysm. The only way to fix it, and prevent catastrophic bleeding, was to close it off on both ends.”

Following a short, 45-minute minimally-invasive procedure using stents, the TBE was able to successfully accomplish this.

While Alfred, a proud father of three young boys, is still early in his healing process, Drs. Felger and Zea, along with his devoted wife Cristi, are optimistic about his recovery.

“Overall, he’s staying positive, and he and all of our family members are so thankful and truly recognize that he has defied the odds,” says Cristi.

How does the TBE work?

The FDA-approved device was designed to treat aortic damage with a more minimally-invasive approach than traditional open-heart surgery. It is made of flexible fabric and tubes and implanted via stents, which allows surgeons to repair the damage to the aorta and maintain blood flow.

It was not initially designed for use in trauma cases, but Dr. Zea predicts that the TBE will continue to further become an effective option for treating emergency aortic aneurysms in the future.

What are the patient benefits of aortic repair with the TBE?

Benefits of treatment using the TBE over open-heart surgery include:

  • A minimally-invasive surgical procedure, via two small one centimeter incisions in the groin and arm
  • A shorter length procedure and lower dose of anesthesia
  • Fewer days in the ICU and hospital along with a shorter recovery time afterwards
  • Potential prevention from serious side effects such as nerve damage and stroke

At CTVS, we are humbled to help treat patients like Alfred as they are granted a second lease on life and proud to continue to offer the most innovative treatments and technology in cardiothoracic and vascular care to Central Texans for more than 65 years.

For questions about any of our vascular, cardiac, or thoracic services, please visit or call us at (512) 459-8753 to schedule an appointment.

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