Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City-1670477458946
The rare and complicated procedure was carried out at the Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC). Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The life of a 35-year-old woman who had suffered an abdominal aneurysm was saved after a massive damaged vessel in her abdomen was replaced during a complex procedure in the capital.

The rare and complicated procedure was carried out at the Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), one of the UAE’s largest hospital that was established under a partnership between public health provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) and US-based research-focussed medical facility, the Mayo Clinic.

Abdominal aneurysm

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged area in the lower part of the aorta, a major vessel that supplies blood to the body. The aorta runs from the heart through the center of the chest and abdomen and is the largest blood vessel in the body, so a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding.

The patient, Analyn Pisao, a Filipina, was rushed to SSMC’s emergency department suffering from what was initially thought to be severe appendicitis. However, a CT scan indicated she had a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, which was 9 centimetres in size.

Immediate procedure

She was assessed by Dr Mohamed Baguneid, consultant and chair of the Vascular Surgery Division at SSMC, who has over 27 years of clinical experience as a vascular and endovascular surgeon. Alongside his highly skilled team, Dr Baguneid reacted immediately to prepare for the advanced procedure. With the hospital’s diagnostic equipment, treatment technologies and world-leading multidisciplinary expertise, Pisao received complex integrated care promptly.

Dr Mohamed Baguneid

“The patient came to us with low blood pressure and was suffering from severe pain. Essentially, the main aorta in her abdomen had ballooned out and ruptured, causing bleeding. Given the complexity of her condition and the need for immediate intervention, our team had to mobilise very quickly, so within half an hour from the diagnosis, we had a clamp on her aorta to stop the bleeding. Once we were able to do that, we proceeded with a laparotomy and replacement of the entire aorta with an artificial graft inside her abdomen,” Dr Baguneid said.

Unlike more well-known cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease and stroke, aortic aneurysms are less common and usually affect people aged 70 years and above. Some risk factors, such as being elderly, gender-based variation, hypertension, smoking, and genetic or metabolic abnormalities, can contribute to aortic aneurysm development.

Rare case

“Unfortunately, half of the people who suffer a rupture of an aortic aneurysm die before they even reach the hospital, and only half of those that make it to a hospital will survive, making this a life-threatening condition. Generally, these types of aneurysms are less frequent in the UAE than in other parts of the world, like Europe and the United States. This might be due to the relatively young population here,” Dr Baguneid said.

“This case was very rare and unusual. The patient was only 35 years old with no history of smoking, and thanks to the timely diagnosis, I amm pleased to say that she recovered well and was able to return home after five days following the procedure”, he added.

Pisao recollected the tremendous pain she had been in, and expressed her gratitude to the medical professionals who attended to her.

“I was suffering from so much pain that I honestly thought my life would be over at any moment – that’s how frightened I was. When I went through the procedure with Dr Baguneid, I couldn’t believe it was over. I now feel a lot better and am especially relieved. The doctor told me I wouldn’t have to worry anymore, and I am thankful to him and the hospital staff for their efforts and saving my life,” Pisao said.


In a statement, the SSMC said ultrasounds are usually used to screen for aneurysms, as the diagnostic technology can detect aneurysms with 99.9 per cent accuracy. If small, they are then followed up with regular scans until the aneurysm reaches 5.5 centimetres in size, and an elective procedure is thenrecommended.

“Our staff work to provide integrated human-centric and compassionate care at all times. SSMC is constantly elevating the provision of health care services and standards by bringing to the region Mayo Clinic’s unique model of care,” said Dr Matthew Gettman, chief medical officer at SSMC.

Dr Matthew Gettman

"We are committed to becoming a regional destination medical center for complex care, such as the above case, and a Category of One provider in health care. To achieve this goal, we use state-of-the-art technology, key innovative procedures, and techniques to improve the overall patient journey."