VA performs first-ever surgical procedure in Augusta - Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center
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Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center


VA performs first-ever surgical procedure in Augusta

September 27, 2018

AUGUSTA, Ga. – A Veteran in the CSRA is the first to undergo a breakthrough surgical procedure at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia.

Receiving the Transcarotid Artery Revascularization surgery Sept. 19, the Veteran came through the operation successfully, which took a little more than an hour to complete. This is the first time the operation was performed in the Central Savannah River Area. TCAR is an alternative to a more invasive surgery, a carotid endarterectomy, and reduces the risk of stroke, both during and following the operation.

Dr. Manual F. Ramirez, a vascular surgeon at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, led the team that performed the operation.

“It’s very exciting to be the first, and it means a lot for our Veterans,” he said. “It gives an alternative for our patients who may be more at risk for stroke or other factors.”

Acting Chief of Staff Dr. Terri Lockhart said the TCAR procedure is another reason why Veterans are choosing VA – innovation and a focus on Veteran needs.

“Every opportunity our doctors have to bring safer, better care to Veterans is one we embrace enthusiastically,” Lockhart said. “I’m proud of the team that successfully completed the procedure and look forward to continually giving reasons for Veterans to choose Charlie Norwood as their provider of care.”

The TCAR procedure is performed through a small incision at the neckline just above the clavicle. This incision is much smaller than a typical incision for a surgery of this kind. The surgeon places a tube directly into the carotid artery and connects it to a system redirects blood flow away from the skull to protect against debris reaching the brain during the procedure.

The patient’s blood flows through the system and any debris is captured in a filter outside the body. The patient’s filtered blood is returned through a second tube in the upper thigh. The surgeron implants a carotid stent to stabilize the plaque and prevent future strokes. After the stent is placed successfully, flow reversal is turned off and blood flow resumes in its normal direction.

The team credited with conducting the first TCAR surgery in Augusta included Ramirez, Paul Henri, Mary Comer PA-C, Mark Daniel PA-C, Andrea Falciano RN, Leslie Day RN, Katina Payne, surgical tech; Pricilla Grisham, radiology technician; Sheri Hooks, General Electric representative; Leticia Ellis, vascular ultrasonographer; Tom Sprague, CRNA; Dr. Henry J. Heyman, anesthesiologist; and Sheila Manuel, logistics.

About Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center

Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center is a two-division, three Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) medical center providing tertiary care in medicine, surgery, neurology, psychiatry, rehabilitation medicine, and spinal cord injury. The Downtown Division is authorized 156 beds (58 medicine, 27 surgery, and 71 spinal cord injury). The Uptown Division, located approximately three miles away, is authorized 93 beds (68 psychiatry, 15 blind rehabilitation and 10 rehabilitation medicine). In addition, a 132-bed Restorative/Nursing Home Care Unit and a 60-bed Domiciliary are located at the Uptown Division. The medical center serves as a network resource for the treatment of spinal cord injury, blind rehabilitation, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychiatry patients. The facility employs about 2,400 people from around the region and sees about 46,000 Veterans each fiscal year with a budget of more than $400 million. It is part of Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 7, located in Atlanta, along with seven other medical facilities in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. The three CBOCs are in Aiken, S.C.; Athens and Statesboro, Ga.