Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)
What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
An aneurysm is the bulging or ballooning of a weakened area of the aorta. It can become weak due to age, disease or trauma. As the bulge grows, the wall of the aorta becomes weaker. As it grows the aorta may rupture and lead to massive internal bleeding. A ruptured aneurysm needs immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of an AAA include:
In most cases, patients don't have any symptoms. However, for those patients that do have symptoms, the most common one is pain in the abdomen, back or chest. The pain may be mild or severe. Some patients feel the aneurysm as a throbbing mass in their abdomen. An AAA is often discovered during an examination being done for another health reason. Your doctor may feel a bulge or pulsation in your abdomen. Often aneurysms are found during a medical test such as a CT scan or ultrasound.
Treatment options for repair of AAAs include:
- Open surgery
For this treatment option a large cut is made in the abdomen. The weakened section of the aorta is removed and replaced with a fabric graft
Open surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia and takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete. Patients will then spend 3 to 4 days in an intensive care unit and stay in the hospital for at least one week. Recovery time is usually 2-3 months.
- Endovascular stent grafting
Endovascular stent grafting is a minimally invasive procedure. A stent graft is placed inside the aneurysm without surgically opening the abdomen. The stent graft is a fabric tube supported by a metal framework.
This procedure usually takes about 2 hours and may be performed under local, regional or general anesthesia. Patients don't usually have to spend time in the intensive care unit. The hospital stay is usually 1-2 days. Recovery time is usually 4-6 weeks.