A recent MedCity News article discussed the story of a medical school actor who was surprisingly diagnosed with a serious condition. When I first heard of this news story, I thought it was interesting to hear about the common practice of medical schools hiring actors to portray patients with different illnesses, to help train medical students. In this case at the University of Virginia, the patient actor was told to pretend to have symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. In fact, the resident physician in training who performed the mock exam actually helped diagnose the “patient” with the same condition he was actually portraying!
At IMARC, we have been involved for years with different clinical trials aimed at helping real-world patients with this same condition, the abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). An AAA is defined as an enlarged area in the lower part of the aorta. As the aorta is the body’s main blood supplier, an aneurysm in this area can be deadly. Unfortunately, as was with the case of the medical actor, many times, patients do not have any symptoms until the aneurysm is very large. For these patients, the AAA grows slowly and some never rupture; these aneurysms are usually diagnosed accidentally, when patients receive a CT scan or other abdominal imaging for another medical condition. When there are symptoms, they range from pain in the back, abdomen, or groin, to a pulsating or tender abdominal mass that can be felt on examination.
There are several treatments for an AAA, with the goal being to hopefully treat the diseased area before it ends up rupturing, a life-threatening emergency. Although an open surgical repair is one option, many physicians have moved towards endovascular repairs, which have less risks and shorter recovery time. Many of us at IMARC have been fortunate enough to work with Sponsors who have worked on stent-grafts, to be used for patients with an AAA during endovascular repair.
For the actor mentioned in the story above, he was lucky to have had the chance for a physician to diagnose him with an AAA, which was subsequently treated successfully with an endovascular stent-graft procedure. We keep this patient, and others, in mind as we continue to work with our Sponsors on studies to further develop the stent-grafts used in these endovascular procedures.
Photo Credit: heraldpost