Last October, Tim Combs, 67, a retired carpenter from Elkhorn, lost more than 10 pounds and developed a fever. His primary care doctor advised him to go to the local emergency department, where physicians discovered a dangerous infection in a stent that had been placed in his abdomen seven months earlier. The stent was used to repair an aortic aneurysm — a bulging weakness in the large blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart and into the abdomen.

Th­e infection made Tim so sick that doctors recommended moving him to an academic medical center where he could receive a higher level of care. Tim and his wife, Karen, chose Froedtert Hospital, the academic medical center of the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network.

Abdominal Aortic Surgery

At Froedtert Hospital, Tim met Peter Rossi, MD, vascular surgeon and MCW faculty member, who specializes in treating aortic problems. Dr. Rossi and a team of providers performed two back-to-back surgeries. ­The first was to remove the infected stent and the infected tissue nearby. ­The diseased part of Tim’s aorta was replaced with a fabric graphic infused with infection-fighting antibiotics. He also had marble-sized beads loaded with antibiotics placed in his abdomen, a temporary measure to treat any remaining infection. Two days later, the surgical team did a second procedure, removing the beads and closing the sizable incision.

Vascular Technology and Treatment Options 

The surgeries were a success, but Tim’s recovery took time. He spent almost six weeks in the hospital. He raves about the people who cared for him, particularly the physicians and nurses, physical therapists and cleaning stage.

“Everyone was so friendly, so accommodating,” he said. “I had a great experience.” He has regular appointments with Dr. Rossi and an infectious disease specialist who continue to monitor his health.

The Froedtert & MCW team use the latest treatments and technologies for vascular health problems, from simple conditions to complex issues like Tim experienced.

“We’re experienced with the most complex vascular conditions, including redo procedures,” Dr. Rossi said. “We encourage anyone with an aortic condition to start here, or see us for a second opinion, so that every possible treatment option is open.

To learn more about our top-tier vascular team and treatment options, visit To request an appointment or second opinion, call 414-777-7700.