The aorta is the major artery in the body that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The upper portion of the aorta that runs through the chest is known as the thoracic aorta, while the lower portion is called the abdominal aorta. This is the portion of aorta that is most vulnerable to a potentially dangerous condition known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
What is an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a bulge or swelling of a portion of the aorta. The walls of the enlarged area of the artery weaken, which can leave the vessel vulnerable to rupture. Ruptures in the aorta are a life-threatening event that require emergency medical attention. If an aneurysm is detected, careful monitoring or prompt treatment is usually recommended to prevent a rupture from occurring. Response to the aneurysm will depend on its size and whether it is growing.
Benefits of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair
When an aneurysm is small, it is much less likely to rupture. In this case, your physician may recommend a period of “watchful waiting” which includes regular monitoring of the aneurysm to ensure it does not enlarge. If the aneurysm is large or growing quickly, there is a much larger risk of rupture. It is likely your physician will recommend surgical repair in this situation. This can provide patients with a number of benefits:
- Relief from uncomfortable symptoms
- Eliminates risk of aneurysm rupture
- Different surgical options allow us to adapt your procedure to fit your needs
- Surgery achieves a high safety and success rate
- Some patients may experience a shorter recovery period than expected
Options in Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair
At Missoula Surgical Associates, we offer two options in abdominal aortic aneurysm repair:
Open Repair – This procedure involves a large incision in the abdomen that allows access to the aorta so it can be repaired with a synthetic graft. The graft replaces the damaged section of the aorta and is sewn into place so it becomes a permanent part of the vessel. This surgery has a high success rate, but does involve a longer recovery period than endovascular repair.
Endovascular Repair (Stent Graft Repair) – This innovative method of aneurysm repair uses a narrow tube, called a catheter, to place a stent or graft inside the damaged portion of the aorta. The surgery is performed through a small incision in your groin, allowing the catheter to be threaded up into the aorta. Special tools and imaging are used to perform the procedure with smaller incisions and less overall trauma to the body. This procedure offers similar success rates to open repair, but requires regular monitoring of the stent to ensure no leakage occurs.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair is a relatively safe and effective surgical procedure, particularly when it is performed by a surgeon experienced in these techniques. The surgeons at Missoula Surgical Associates have performed many of these repairs and will help you to determine which procedure will best fit your specific needs. To learn more, contact Missoula Surgical Associates today at 406.542.7525.