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St. Catherine Hospital and Kansas Heart Hospital (KHH) have worked on many educational programs since KHH’s founding in 1999. Beginning five years ago, the idea of a western Kansas heart symposium was started and has been held at St. Catherine Hospital’s conference center ever since that time.

Dr. Greg Duick, KHH President, moderated the day-long symposium and Beth Koksal, Wellness Coordinator at St. Catherine Hospital, welcomed the participants. Dr. John Ferrell, cardiologist at the St. Catherine Heart Center, spoke on “Thoracic Aortic Disease: Guidelines for Diagnosis and Disease Management,” while Dr. Bill Freund, another cardiologist at the Heart Center, discussed “Cardiology Updates for 2014.” Diabetes updates and the role of EMS in the rural setting highlighted the early afternoon presentations.

Dr. Jason Woolard

Jason Woolard, MD, FACS

Jason Woolard, MD, FACS, a practicing peripheral vascular surgeon with Wichita Surgical Specialists and KHH, discussed current management of abdominal aortic aneurysms. Both open technique and the newer EVAR stent technique were discussed. The audience Q and A centered on not only management of aortic aneurysms but, at times, the difficulty in making an accurate and timely diagnosis. Dr. Ferrell mentioned that “dissecting thoracic aortic aneurysms can masquerade as pleurisy, pneumonia, pericarditis, acute heart attack and they require a high index of suspicion in non-obvious clinical situations.” Dr. Freund added that “it (acutely dissecting aneurysms) can be a most challenging diagnosis to make.”

In conclusion, the panel discussion focused its attention on what acute vascular presentations require immediate transfer to a tertiary care facility and what clinical “pearls” can help make an otherwise challenging diagnosis when confronted with chest pain and the possibility of a dissecting thoracic and / or abdominal aortic aneurysm. Everybody present stated that they looked forward to next year’s symposium.