An aortic aneurysm is a weak area in the aorta-the main blood vessels that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. As blood flows through the aorta, the weak area bulges like a balloon and can burst if the bulge gets too big. Once an aneurysm reaches 5 cm in diameter, it is usually considered necessary to treat the aneurysm in order to prevent rupture. Below 5 cm, the risk of the aneurysm rupturing is lower than the risk of interventional surgery in patients with normal surgical risks. The goal of therapy for aneurysms is to prevent them from rupturing. Once an abdominal aortic aneurysm has ruptured, the chances of survival are low, with 80-90% of all ruptured aneurysms resulting in death. These deaths can be avoided if an aneurysm is detected and treated before it ruptures
Abdominal aortic aneurysms can now be repaired using minimally invasive techniques. This minimally invasive technique is performed by interventional radiologists using imaging to guide the catheter and graft inside the patient’s artery, rather than making a large incision. For the procedure, an incision is made in the skin at the groin through which the catheter is passed into the femoral artery and directed to the aortic aneurysm. Through the catheter, the physician passes a stent graft that is compressed into a small diameter within the catheter. The stent graft is advanced to the aneurysm, and then opened, creating new walls in the blood vessel through which blood flows.
This is a less invasive method of placing a graft within the aneurysm to redirect blood flow and stop direct pressure from being exerted on the weak aortic wall. This relatively new method eliminates the need for a large abdominal incision. It also elimates the need to clamp the aorta during the procedure. Clamping the aorta creates significant stress on the heart and people with severe heart disease may not be able to tolerate this major surgery. Stent grafts are most commonly considered for patients at increased surgical risk due to age or other medical conditions.
Following aortic stent graft placement, patients are often discharged a day or two after interventional repair, and typically do not require an extensive ICU stay postoperatively. Once discharged, most return to normal activity within 2 weeks compared to 6 to 8 weeks after surgical repair.
If you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm and would like to obtain more information about non surgical, minimally invasive repair, please contact MIIGS for a consultation with one of our physicians.