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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlargement of a weak area of the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart toward the organs. This large artery, known as the aorta, runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen giving branches to important organs before dividing into arteries that go through each leg. While the normal diameter of the aorta is about an inch or less, an aneurysm can grow to be more than five inches in diameter.

Although aneurysms can occur in any part of the aorta, approximately 75 percent are found in the abdomen, and 50 percent may involve the junction of one of the iliac arteries, which extend from the aorta into each leg.

Over time, the pressure of blood flowing through the artery can cause the weakened area to enlarge and bulge out like a balloon.

Aneurysms are a potentially serious health condition because they can burst or rupture. Larger aneurysms are more likely to rupture than smaller ones, resulting in internal bleeding that is fatal unless treated very quickly by an experienced surgical team. Even under the best circumstances, only about half of patients with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm who get to a hospital survive. For this reason, planned treatment to prevent rupture is crucial.

Surgical Repair

The traditional method requires the surgeon to utilize a synthetic graft to replace the swollen and weakened wall of an aneurysm. An incision is made in the abdomen and the aneurysm is reached. The aneurysm is then opened and all plaque and blood clot is removed. The surgeon then sews the graft to the aorta. The graft may extend down into the iliac arteries. The traditional surgery is a major operation and may take several hours to perform. Hospitalization and recovery time varies among individuals.

Endovascular Method

The endovascular method requires the surgeon to make a 5 cm incision in both groin areas and insert a small plastic catheter into the artery. The catheter is then advanced up the aorta reaching the aneurysm. The graft is then placed and expanded within the artery to allow blood flow. The graft is attached above and below the aneurysm and held in place with stents or hooks. The catheter is removed and the incisions are closed. Hospitalization and recovery time is shorter than the traditional method of surgical repair.

There are dramatic benefits to Minimally Invasive Vascular Surgery. Surgery without major incision minimizes tissue damage allowing for a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery time. Patients also enjoy reduced post-operative pain and less scarring than open surgery. Dr. Stroman and Dr. Anderson are board certified vascular surgeons that are experienced in Endovascular Surgery. Please contact our office for consultation with your vascular surgeons.

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