Ironman With Russian Doll Common Iliac Stent Grafts?

Three Left Common Iliac Stent Grafts

Visited The Weight Room Today

Then my vegetable garden!

Russian Doll common Iliac Stent Grafts

Three iliac stent grafts in one!

Three left common iliac stent grafts?

Endovascular surgeons save me again!

Let me explain.

2010 – Ironman race reveals my abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). I receive a Cook Zenith AAA Stent Graft. Ironman training continues, with self-directed modifications based on Biomechanics. The left iliac arm is very short (1.5 cm – trouble waiting to happen).

2011Complete the Lake Placid Ironman with my stent graft (Rupert).

2013 – Hit from behind by another cyclist in the Las Vegas Half Ironman Championships, crash on his chain ring, displacing the fragile left iliac arm of the stent, back into the aneurysm – repaired at the Cleveland Clinic by another athlete, Dr. Tara Mastracci, and her endovascular team. This could have happened falling off a bike anywhere, in my opinion. I continue Ironman racing, carefully!

2017 April – Strain a hip flexor doing gentle hill training for a local run. After fixing that problem, with passive then active recovery, I notice I can’t run, or walk uphill. Any serious effort results in considerable aching in my left leg. This continues without improvement for two months. My cycling buddy, Sue, says, “Kevin, I think it might be your stent. You’d better have it checked!”

common iliac stent grafts in my vegetable garden2017 June (last week) – I get my stent checked at UNC Hospital. The left common iliac arm is completed occluded by a clot. Close to the junction of my first stent and the extension, right there in that short common iliac branch. There are no other symptoms than claudication – must have a lot of collateral circulation.

2017 June (two days ago) – UNC staff do a great job of clearing the clot (for me that was over 30 hours of laying my back – very horrible, but no choice). They then insert a third stent in my left common iliac artery to keep it open, and I go back on aspirin, fish oil (also inhibits blood clotting), and wondering if my Ironman days are over. Still not sure – don’t think so, right now, but need to run the sport benefit-risk analysis.

iliac stent graft

It’s wonderful to have caring family and friends and three iliac stent grafts. I’m a lucky man!

2017 Today – I go to my vegetable garden (like Candide), and contemplate – I’ll apply my Benefit-Risk Equation, while my surgery sites heal. I’m starting to think there might be a safe way to continue Ironman training. The real challenge will be the bike – can I do it standing?

Plan – further research, build strength in my legs, ramp up swim for cardiovascular health, and continue thinking and planning.

Have fun, life is brief!

kev aka FitOldDog, who plans to stay fit.

PS Thank you so much family, friends, UNC staff, and people who invent, make and insert AAA and other stent grafts.

PPS Should I continue Ironman training with three Russian Doll common iliac stent grafts.

One endovascular surgeon said, “You need to stop doing that.”

Another one said, “It will be fine to run, but not bike.”

What do you think?



  1. Marian Morgan says

    Stop the Ironman. Do something different.

    • Why should I do that. Ironman literally saved my life in 2010, and I think the training fixes my genetic hyperlipidemia, and keeps me out of assisted living. AND I enjoy the training. Nope! If I can, I’ll work out a way to continue the training, without risking my triple triple A stent graft!! kev

  2. Peter Baron says

    Ever since I first saw your blog Kevin I have thought you were pushing it, but that is only my opinion. I have RA as well as an AAA and a common iliac and internal iliac aneurysms reinforced by a Cook stent as well as an embolised internal iliac artery. My feeling is that it isn’t good to constantly test the endurance of the stents, but my physical ability is definitely limited by the RA. Even gardening can give me pulled tendons and joints that ache for days. Alas, my choice for retirement was climbing the hills and mountains. I am so glad that I got the last climb in during the week the RA suddenly hit. My 6 week CT was OK except for a small endless, so now I am just glad to be alive and live within my limitations.

    • Hi Peter, you’re right about one thing, a man does have to know his limitations. I think my training actually favors my stent, especially anterior stability – a strong aorta helps to hold those hooks in place. I don’t think training caused trouble in 2013 (I could have fallen over any which way, and done it, as the left stent branch was only 1.5 cm and the artery was enlarging). I also suspect that what happened to kink my stent a couple of months ago was another example of trouble waiting to happen. Based on stats, my issues are not uncommon in sedentary people. I avoid intensity, and think it through, which I will again. This will be another exciting adventure. It is nice to have my left leg back. Yep! We just have to enjoy the cards we’re dealt as best we can, each day. If worse comes to worse, long-haul swimming and hiking, but we’ll see what I can come up with. Kind regards, kev

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.