Surgeons at Kaunas Clinics in Lithuania performed their first blood vessel transplantation last week, saving the patient's leg.
“The patient can practically go home today. He underwent surgery on Tuesday and is already walking and can go home,” Linas Velička, the head of the blood vessel surgery division at the hospital, told reporters on Monday.
The patient has the occlusive peripheral arterial disease. Doctors initially could not perform the shunting of his own vessel and implanted a synthetic one. However, an infection developed in the implanted synthetic blood vessel. Surgeons had to remove and replace it with a donor vessel. In other cases, removing an implant would have led to losing the limb.
“There was a 60-70 percent, even 80-percent risk that he [the patient] could have had to have his leg amputated,” Velička said.
The patient was lucky, as doctors managed to restore blood flow after implanting a live vessel. The first procedure of this kind in Lithuania became possible after the hospital's tissue bank had started collecting donor vessels.
The first such operation in the world was carried out in the middle of the 20th century, but was not very successful. Subsequently, doctors started using synthetic blood vessels.
Around 15-20 patients need the surgery every year.