An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) is a swelling of the main blood vessel that transmits blood from the heart, through the abdomen, to the rest of the body. If not detected early on, it can be dangerous as they can increase in size and ultimately potentially burst causing life threatening bleeding.
Treatment for an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm isn’t always needed straight away, and this will largely depend on the size of the aneurysm, and therefore the risk of it bursting.
Usually, aneurysms smaller that 5.5cm are kept under surveillance via ultrasound or CT scanning to monitor their size, and the rate of their increase in size. When aneurysms increase in size to 5.5cm or greater, surgery is usually recommended to stop them getting larger or bursting.
For large AAA, surgery is generally advocated to reduce the risk of it bursting, as the risk of performing surgery at this size is less than the risk of the aneurysm bursting.
The surgery involves the placement of a man-made graft or tube to strengthen the inside of the aorta, thereby reducing the risk of it bursting. This can be performed in one of two ways:
Endovascular surgery – Where the graft is inserted to the inside of the aorta via a small cut in an artery in the leg. (New guidelines expected soon)
Open surgery – Where the graft is sewn in to the inside of the artery via a cut in the tummy.
Both approaches carry a number of risks and benefits which can be discussed and a decision made on which approach may be best for you.
After surgery, you will normally be in hospital for 2-3 days (for endovascular repair) or 7-10 days (for open repair). Usually recovery will be a little longer following an open repair, but the risks and benefits of each approach will be discussed with you prior to arranging any intervention
For more information, or to arrange a consultation, please feel free to contact us via the ‘contact’ tab above.