What is an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?

An aortic aneurysm is a term describing the ballooning or enlargement of the aorta. The condition can occur in any portion of the aorta, but most commonly occurs in the abdomen, otherwise referred to as abdominal aortic aneurysm or AAA. The primary concern of this condition is the increased risk for rupture of the aorta, which causes massive bleeding, and will quickly result in death. AAA’s are the tenth leading cause of death in men over 50 in the US, with ruptures accounting for approximately 20,000 deaths each year.

What are the symptoms of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms?

An abdominal aortic aneurysm typically produces no symptoms, but as the size of the aneurysm increases, abdominal and/or back pain may develop. Other symptoms may include pain radiating to the groin and a pulsating mass in the abdomen.

How are Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm’s diagnosed?

Diagnosis of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is typically made via a screening ultrasound examination, although CT scans of the abdomen obtained for other reasons are another common avenue whereby aneurysms are detected.

How is Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Treated?

Before and After Your Procedure

There are two surgical options for the treatment of AAA, open surgical repair, and minimally invasive endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR). Typically, surgical repair of either type is only recommended when the diameter of the aneurysm exceeds 5 cm, with the risk of aortic rupture at that size being greater that the risk associated with the surgery.

Open Surgical Repair of AAA

Open surgical repair of the AAA involves an abdominal incision to gain access to aneurysm. The aneurysm is opened and a graft is sutured into aorta and fixed into place. The dilated portion of the aorta is then closed over the graft.

Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR)

Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR) has recently emerged as a minimally invasive alternative to open surgical repair, but is only suitable under certain conditions. The procedure involves small incisions in the groin to allow for insertion and positioning of an endovascular stent graft at the location of the aneurysm.

Benefits of EVAR include significantly shorter hospital stays, and lower risk for peri-operative death. Also a viable options for patients that could not be cleared for traditional open Long-term studies are still underway, but current research indicates that the procedure does not offer any long-term survival or quality of life benefits over open surgical repair.