3-D Technology: Boosting Patient Understanding

Barry Katzen, M.D., founder and chief medical executive of Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, believes all patients should
have a full understanding about their condition and care, particularly because there is risk involved in any procedure.

“We draw diagrams on paper for them, we show them pictures, but we sometimes get an empty look back,” Dr. Katzen said. “There’s nothing better than showing patients a model and watching their eyebrows raise when that aha! moment comes.”

That’s exactly what happened with Dr. Katzen’s patient, Mel Dick, (pictured above) who came to Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute with a large popliteal aneurysm behind his right knee. The aneurysm was discovered after Mr. Dick was successfully treated for a blood clot in his left leg, caused by another, smaller aneurysm. The popliteal artery passes behind the knee and supplies blood to the lower leg and foot, but if blood clots form, diminished circulation can result in amputation.

Dr. Katzen has pioneered minimally invasive procedures to treat aneurysms wherever they occur in the body; in 2012, he led a team that performed the Institute’s 1,000th repair of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

At 81, Mr. Dick loves to travel and still works as senior vice president of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. His concern that his lifestyle would change dramatically was a valid one. He stopped exercising when the aneurysm developed. Dr. Katzen knew a model would help Mr. Dick understand his condition — a weakened artery wall — and what needed to be done to fix it.

Made out of calcium carbonate, which feels like bone, the 3-D model of Mr. Dick’s knee joint highlighted the aneurysm and other blood vessels in the leg. While Mr. Dick held the model in his hands, Dr. Katzen showed him how he would thread a tiny catheter to the aneurysm through a small puncture in the groin and place a mesh and metal stent graft in the artery to strengthen it and ensure good blood flow. (See video from previous blog post with Dr. Katzen and Mr. Dick.)

“This was really wonderful,” Mr. Dick said in a follow-up appointment with Dr. Katzen. “Before, when people asked me what I was having done, I gave them different stories because I really didn’t understand. But after I saw the model, I could explain exactly what was going to happen.”

He underwent the procedure in February and has returned to swimming and exercising on the treadmill, not to mention his favorite weekend sporting activity, boxing. “I love to box. Have been doing it since I was 12.”

This article was previously published in Baptist Health South Florida’s Resource magazine

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