Endovascular Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair

What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakened, bulging area that occurs in the wall of the aorta. The aorta is the largest blood vessel that is responsible for supplying blood to the body. The aorta runs from the heart through the centre of the chest and abdomen. A rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm may lead to life-threatening bleeding.

What are the symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

Abdominal aortic aneurysms normally grow slowly without causing any symptoms, making them difficult to detect. In some cases, some aneurysms never rupture. If the patient has an abdominal aortic aneurysm that may be enlarging, the patient may experience the following:

  • Constant deep pain in the abdomen or on the side of the abdomen
  • Back pain
  • Feeling a pulse near the belly button
  • Clammy or sweaty skin
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shock or loss of consciousness

A physical examination, as well as a scan of the abdomen, will be done to accurately diagnose the problem. Depending on the size of the aneurysm and how fast it is growing, the vascular surgeon may recommend an endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair.

What does an endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair involve?

An endovascular repair of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is a minimally invasive procedure which may be recommended if the patient is experiencing symptoms such as stomach pain or have a leaking, tender or painful aneurysm. During this procedure, the patient will be given a general anaesthetic, and the heart and blood pressure will be monitored. Two incisions will be made in the groin and a thin, flexible tube, called a catheter will be inserted to the aneurysm.

A stent graft made of a thin metal mesh covered with a thin polyester material will be inserted over a special wire into the aneurysm. The guidewire will be removed, and the graft will be left in the blood vessel, which will then protect the aorta and prevent the aneurysm from rupturing. The incision will be closed and dressed.

After the procedure, the patient will receive after-care in the High Care Unit, and patients are typically discharged after 2 days.

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"Often healing takes place in ourselves as we pray for the healing of others."
~ Michael E. DeBakey