First Procedures at Audrey and Martin Gruss Heart & Stroke Center Save Life and Limb

On the opening day of Southampton Hospital’s Audrey and Martin Gruss Heart & Stroke Center, Rashmi Sharma, MD performed the first two procedures in the Center’s new hybrid endovascular suite. This suite, equipped with Siemens Healthcare Artis zeego, provided the cutting edge technology needed to perform the sophisticated, minimally invasive surgical interventions.

Dr. Sharma, of Hamptons Vein & Vascular, has been working with Kevin Unruh, the Hospital’s Director of Radiology, to build an endovascular program at Southampton Hospital for the past eight months. More recently, both have worked with Kathleen Anderson, RN, Operating Room Nurse Manager, in bringing together an endovascular team that provides an unprecedented level of care and services.  With the new endovascular hybrid suite, patients will benefit from minimally invasive surgery that offers many advantages over open surgery—local anesthesia instead of general anesthesia, smaller incisions, shorter recovery period, and reduced risk of complications. In addition, patients who previously were not good candidates for surgery due to high-risk of complications associated with open surgery can now have access to these procedures.

The first patient presented with severe blockage of the arteries in the leg and was at risk for an amputation. Through a small puncture site in the groin, Dr. Sharma removed the clot behind the knee (percutaneous thrombectomy) and opened up the small vessels in the calf (athrectomy and angioplasty).  The advanced imaging of the hybrid OR allowed clear and accurate visualization of everything needed to restore blood flow to the foot. The patient was able to walk the day after this procedure and went home in two days.  In contrast, if the patient had an open surgical bypass, there would have been long incisions in the leg, an ICU stay, at least a week in the hospital, and several weeks in a rehabilitation center.

Dr. Sharma’s second patient had a large abdominal aortic aneurysm, a “ballooning” of the aorta that can burst and cause deadly bleeding.  The new hybrid OR allowed Dr. Sharma to perform the first EVAR (endovascular abdominal aneurysm repair) at Southampton Hospital.  The surgery involved making small incisions in the groin to access the blood vessels.  An endovascular graft was inserted through the blood vessels and positioned inside the aorta to prevent the blood from flowing into the aneurysm and future rupture.  The patient was able to go home within 24 hours of the procedure. In the past, this condition was treated by open surgery, involving large abdominal incisions, major cardiac and pulmonary complications, hospital stay of 7-10 days and three-months of recovery.

Comments Robert Chaloner, President & CEO of Southampton Hospital, “Congratulations to Dr. Sharma and her surgical team on their outstanding work.  These first, extraordinary success stories are just the beginning.  With this state-of-the-art technology now available on the East End, we expect many more patients to benefit from access to life-changing and life-saving medicine.”


(l. to r.) Kathleen Anderson, RN, Operating Room Nurse Manager; Rashmi Sharma, MD, Vascular Surgeon; and Kevin Unruh, M.Ed.,R.T.(R)(CT)(MR), Director of Radiology.