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Vascular Surgery - Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

The abdominal aorta is a large blood vessel that supplies blood to your abdomen, the pelvis, and legs. When the wall of the aorta becomes weak and diseased it may become larger and balloon outward, this is known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm also known as "triple A". If the aneurysm is not treated it may burst leading to severe hemorrhage.

Causes:

HTN, smoking, obesity, emphysema, genetic factors

The symptoms of rupture include:

  • Sudden Pain in the abdomen or back.
  • Pulsation in the abdomen
  • Clammy skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shock

Diagnosis

If you doctor feels that you may have an Aneurysm he or she will confirm the diagnosis with either an ultrasound or a CT scan.

Once you have been diagnosed with an aneurysm your doctor will decide if the aneurysm can be observed with imaging, for example an ultrasound every 6 months, or if surgery is needed.

Surgery

There are two approaches to surgery:

Open surgery- An incision is made into the abdomen, the aneurysm is cut out and replaced with a tube graft made of Dacron or PTFE (similar to a plastic tube).

Minimally invasive repair- Also known as an endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) this procedure is preformed with two small incisions in the thigh that expose the groin arteries. The doctor then places the stent graft into the aorta to exclude the aneurysm. The patient typically goes home the next day and resumes normal activity.  The team at SIUH specializes in the treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms with this minimally invasive approach.

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