The diagnosis: A colleague's legs are giving way. A rare emergency and a race against time

When my friend's legs gave way and he fell to the ground with a devastating pain in his chest, I was on the highway.

The diagnosis: A colleague's legs are giving way. A rare emergency and a race against time

When my friend's legs gave way and he fell to the ground with a devastating pain in his chest, I was on the highway. It was the first anniversary of my father's death. I didn't want to spend it in the clinic and signed up for further training. Shortly after Hamburg, my phone rang: a senior doctor from the clinic told me that my friend and colleague, a cardiologist with whom I had worked almost daily in the operating room for almost 15 years, had been admitted with an acute aortic dissection. And he wanted me to operate on him.

The innermost wall of his main artery had torn without warning, close to the heart; Blood burrowed into the new cavity. As a result, there was a lack of supply to the body and brain, which led to stroke-like paralysis of the legs. An aortic dissection is one of the rare and most dangerous emergencies in cardiac surgery. For every hour that it remains untreated, two percent of patients die. Even those who survive an operation often have to deal with consequences such as organ damage or neurological problems later on. My colleague and friend, the surgical technician, and I had treated aortic dissections together in the operating room several times and each time we wished that we would never have something like that. It can affect almost anyone, even if there are risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and congenital connective tissue diseases.

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