Cooper Vascular Surgeon Primary Investigator for New Device to Treat Aortic Dissection

First Commercial U.S. Case Performed at Cooper Last Week

Joseph V. Lombardi, MD, FACS, head, Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery and director of the Cooper Aortic Center at Cooper University Health Care, served as global principal investigator for a new device to treat aortic dissection, a potentially fatal medical condition if left untreated.

Cook Medical’s Zenith Dissection Endovascular System, approved for use by the FDA earlier this year, is a type of flexible stent graft specifically used to treat patients who have a tear (dissection) in the inside lining of the descending thoracic aorta, the large artery in the chest.

“As a clinician and researcher, it was professionally rewarding to lead a multinational team to develop this new, minimally invasive treatment option,” said Dr. Lombardi. “Advances like this give the medical community, and ultimately our patients, more options for a successful outcome.” Dr. Lombardi and a team performed the first commercial procedure with this device in the United States at Cooper on March 28.

The aorta is the largest artery of the body, and it receives oxygen-rich blood from the heart and distributes it to the body through smaller arteries, explained Dr. Lombardi.

“The thoracic aorta, where most aortic dissection occurs, is the part of the aorta that passes through the chest. When the lining of the aorta tears, blood can push through the tear, separating or dissecting the middle layer of the wall from the still intact outer layer,” said Dr. Lombardi. “As a result, a new, false channel forms in the wall of the aorta. The new channel can shut down blood flow to vital organs or rupture through the outside aortic wall, which is often fatal.”

Although uncommon, most aortic dissections occur because high blood pressure causes the artery’s wall to deteriorate. Aortic dissection symptoms may be similar to those of other heart problems and typically include sudden, excruciating pain, most frequently across the chest but also in the back between the shoulder blades.

Aortic dissections are three times more common among men and are more common among African-Americans. About three fourths of aortic dissections occur in people aged 40 to 70.

The Zenith system is inserted via a catheter through the femoral artery in the groin and is carefully guided to the location in the aorta where the tear begins. Once in place, the device helps to prevent the aorta from bursting and can reestablish vital blood supply to other areas of the body. It is less invasive than other treatment options for aortic dissection repair, and offers quicker recovery times for patients. Before it was approved by the FDA, the device underwent two multi-year clinical trials with more than 160 patients in 10 centers nationwide between December 2007 and August 2014.

“Thanks to advances in medical science, we now have more tools to treat aortic dissections,” said Dr. Lombardi. “This is excellent news for our patients.”


Wendy A. Marano
Public Relations Manager

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