MORRISTOWN, NJ (Morris County) – Atlantic Health System has announced the opening of the Atlantic Aortic Center at Morristown Medical Center, under the direction of cardiac surgeon Benjamin Stephen van Boxtel, MD. U.S. News & World Report ranks Morristown Medical Center as “#1 in New Jersey” and a top 40 program nationally for Cardiology and Heart Surgery. Morristown Medical Center is also ranked as New Jersey’s best hospital.
The Atlantic Aortic Center at Morristown Medical Center provides a comprehensive, innovative multidisciplinary approach to surgical and nonsurgical care for patients with diseases of the thoracic aorta such as aortic aneurysm, aortic dissection, aortic disorders associated with congential aortic valve disease, connective tissue disorders and other types of aortic pathology.
The Atlantic Aortic Center’s multidisciplinary approach combines the expertise of world-class cardiac and vascular surgical teams with the knowledge of cardiologists and professionals in fields such as imaging, genetics, anesthesiology and critical care. Together with patients and their loved ones, the teams create a treatment plan that balances the risks and benefits of available treatments.
“The launch of the Atlantic Aortic Center provides another example of the advanced, subpecialized evidence-based care that we can offer patients as one of the nation’s leading cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery programs,” said Linda D. Gillam, MD, MPH, MACC, Dorothy and Lloyd Huck Chair, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and Medical Director, Cardiovascular Service Line, Morristown Medical Center/Atlantic Health System. “Our patients can rest assured that Dr. van Boxtel’s team will provide the best care available.”
“I am honored to help lead the Atlantic Aortic Center at Morristown Medical Center,” stated Dr. van Boxtel, Surgical Director, Aortic Center. “We have the most talented team, which provides the highest quality, most appropriate care.”
In addition to his Aortic Center appointment, Dr. van Boxtel serves as an attending cardiothoracic surgeon with Mid-Atlantic Surgical Associates—Morristown Medical Center, and is currently a cardiothoracic surgeon in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps. He completed his training at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in Integrated Thoracic Surgery, where he trained in open surgical and endovascular techniques in the treatment of aortic disease, as well as advanced training in the surgical treatment of heart failure and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). In addition to his surgical training at Columbia, he also served as a postdoctoral research fellow there, conducting clinical research in adult cardiac surgery including aortic surgery, heart failure, heart and lung transplantation. Dr. van Boxtel’s medical degree is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has published a number of articles on aortic surgery and other topics in peer-reviewed medical journals.
The Atlantic Aortic Center therapeutic strategies include active surveillance (evaluating a patient’s aortic disease and working with their primary doctor to ensure proper monitoring and follow up), medical management, and endovascular (less invasive) and/or conventional open-heart surgical procedures to treat the underlying problem.
The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body. The thoracic aorta is the part of the aorta that is in the chest (thorax). Left untreated, diseases of the aorta may become life-threatening and require emergency surgery.
Often diseases of the thoracic aorta don’t require surgery but require medications to control high blood pressure (hypertension). The Aortic Center team of expert cardiologists works with patients to make sure their blood pressure is well-controlled. This can prevent aneurysms from developing or progressing.
Testing and Imaging:
The Aortic Center team determines the most appropriate test to diagnose and monitor each person’s aortic disease. This may include imaging techniques such as transthoracic or transesophageal echocardiography (TTE or TEE), other ultrasound studies, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MRI) or invasive angiography.
Treatment of thoracic aneurysm disease may require open-heart surgery. The Aortic Center team of expert heart surgeons can discuss surgical options for treatment of patients’ aortic disease. Some of the surgical procedures the center offers include valve-sparing aortic root replacement (the patient’s own valve tissues are preserved while the diseased tissue around the valve is removed and repaired), aortic root replacement, aortic valve replacement, ascending aortic replacement, and partial or total aortic arch replacement. The team also sometimes combines a traditional surgical procedure with an endovascular or stent-based therapy (hybrid aortic procedure).
When possible, the center offers endovascular or transcatheter procedures, which can be done through a small puncture in the groin and use a stent to treat the diseased aorta. These minimally invasive options generally have a decreased recovery time and shorter hospital stay. These procedures may also be offered to patients for whom conventional surgery poses a high risk to their well-being.
The center’s comprehensive aortic surveillance program is the key to preventing life-threatening aortic emergencies. For aortic aneurysms and other conditions that do not require immediate therapy, following their progression and growth is of the utmost importance. The team determines what tests and imaging studies are necessary and how often these should be performed. Aortic Center staff arrange and coordinate these important studies and work with patients’ other health care providers to ensure they are getting the best care possible.