Attendees at the Tuesday, September 10 quarterly meeting of the Baylor Scott and White Dallas Foundation Advisory Board had some interesting art to look at before the luncheon began. As the likes of Tom Dunning, Ken Schnitzer, J. Marc Myers and Pierce Allman huddled outside the meeting room, a number of black-and-white medical drawings were on display. They were vivid, pen-and-ink illustrations of various cardiovascular conditions by the late Leon Schlossberg, who’s been called the premier medical illustrator of his generation.
The drawings were apropos to the topic of the quarterly meeting — “The Art and Science of the Aorta” — and its featured speaker, Dr. Charles Roberts, chair of the department of cardiac surgery and chief of cardiovascular services at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. It seems that Charles’ father Dr. William Roberts — who’s also a cardiac specialist at BUMC — collaborated on the illustrations with Schlossberg several years ago at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.
As a result, William wound up with about 500 of Schlossberg’s drawings at his home, and Charles recently brought 35 of them to the Baylor campus. There, they’ll be displayed on the walls of the Aortic Center, located on the first floor of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital-Dallas.
Before Charles plunged into everything anyone ever wanted to know about the aorta, though, advisory board Chair Norm Bagwell called the quarterly meeting to order and quickly recognized 19 new board members. They are: Forbes Anderson, Richard Bernstein, Charlie Brindell, Cynthia Comparin, Ann Corrigan, Linda Custard, Larry Dale, Pilar Davies, Rick Davis, Laura Downing, Jane Gibson, Joe Hardt, James Hinckley, Michael Levy, Norm Lofgren, Karla McKinley, Jane Rimer, Lindsey Teefey and Jeff York.
Norm also touted the foundation’s Celebrating Women luncheon on Friday, October 11, and Grand Rounds Golf Tournament on Monday, October 21, urged the board to fully achieve its giving goal in FY2020, and brought up Charles to discuss the aorta, the largest artery of the human body. When it’s affected by disease, Charles began explaining, the aorta can rupture in two main ways, both with life-threatening implications that need to be treated in a timely manner. The aorta can either tear or split (that’s called dissection) or dilate (that’s called aneurysm). High blood pressure can play a role in causing both.
Last year, 168 patients underwent aortic operations at Baylor Scott and White, including 64 for dissections and 101 for aneurysms, Charles said. Operations for the former, which result in the insertion of stents, are especially high-risk and can take six hours to complete — or twice as long as for coronary bypass surgery. The result of treatment for aneurysms — they most commonly involve the abdomen — are excellent at Baylor Scott and White Heart and Vascular Hospital, which recently received a high-performance rating in this area by U.S. News and World Report.
During his talk, and later during a moderated panel discussion with foundation president Rowland “Robin” Robinson, Charles stressed the need for a “multidisciplinary approach” to aortic-related issues. That approach involves an “expert team” including the likes of cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons, ER doctors, and hypertension specialists, he explained. Fortunately, he added, exactly such a team is available among the medical staff at Baylor’s Aortic Center.
Near the end of Charles’ presentation, his father William stood up in the audience and explained that he’s one of only three cardiothoracic pathologists in the country. In other words, “I look at a lot of hearts,” William said. “That sounds a little gruesome to some, but it’s really not.”
* Photo credit: Lara Bierner