An abdominal aortic aneurysm is when the artery walls weaken and protrude in part of the aorta that goes through the stomach.
According to Patrick Battey, M.D., head of vascular surgery at Piedmont Heart Institute, aneurysms affect “the major blood vessel in the body, starting from the heart running through the chest into the abdomen or the stomach cavity.”
Under conditions of family history, genetics, smoking, high blood pressure or cholesterol-metabolism problems, elastic fibers inside the aorta can weaken and stretch, and that blood vessel can slowly enlarge.
“When the enlarged vessel reaches a certain stage, it puts someone at risk for rupture,” Dr. Battey says.
Patients usually show no symptoms. In fact, if someone is having symptoms, that could be a sign there may be some instability of the aneurysm itself. “Far more frequently, the aneurysms are discovered by imaging studies for other problems,” he says.
Doctors now have a minimally invasive procedure called endovascular aneurysm repair where they can cut off blood flow to the aneurysm from the inside rather than removing it with traditional surgery.
“We go up the legs through surgical incisions,” Dr. Battey explains. “We make lower right incisions in the groin crease and pass the delivery system with a device loaded inside, running it up to the arteries and kidneys. We release it down into the leg, sealing off one outflow. We then come up through the other leg, and there is an open gate which we then place a wire and complete this upside down inverted ‘Y’ graph to completely exclude the aneurysm from blood flow, reducing the risk of rupture.”
There are many benefits of an endovascular repair of the aortic aneurysm. The procedure frequently allows patients to go home the next day. There is no intensive care unit monitoring for 24 hours in the hospital. And, the repair is only takes a couple of weeks to heal.
“So, the risk of complications related to abdominal problems, bed rest or lung problems are much lower from the endovascular repair than the open surgical repair,” Dr. Battey says.
More details on endovascular repair and traditional aneurysm surgery are located here.