The pros and cons of aortic aneurysm surgery should be considered by every patient considering the procedure and can include many factors. Cons include the risk of heart attack, infection, scarring and other risks associated with any operation. Pros are that some patients may die without the surgery; therefore the risks of not performing the procedure are usually higher than those of the surgery itself.
For mild cases, aortic aneurysm surgery is not generally recommended because the risks of having an operation do not outweigh the benefits. Small aneurysms may be monitored to ensure they are not getting bigger. These may continue to stay the same or grow very slowly for many years, and some patients never even realize they are there. Larger ones are at a higher risk of rupture, meaning they may require surgery to be performed.
There are additional factors when determining rupture risk and necessity of aortic aneurysm surgery. Patients who drink alcohol or have certain health conditions may be at greater risk of having a rupture. For these individuals, surgery may be necessary to prevent this from occurring since a rupture is often fatal. Sometimes less invasive methods may be used first, since sometimes controlling underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure, may halt aneurysm growth and prevent rupturing. A rapidly growing aneurysm may require immediate emergency surgery.
The primary benefits of having aortic aneurysm surgery include prolonging a patient’s life and relieving discomfort. In many cases, surgery is the only way to prevent serious consequences in a rapidly growing aneurysm. Doctors may also do surgery if surrounding organs are also being affected, even if the threat of rupture is not imminent.
Cons of aortic aneurysm surgery include the risk of infection, abdominal bleeding, heart problems, scarring, and complications related to anesthesia. These are generally considered rare, although patients with existing health conditions may be more at risk than others. All previously diagnosed conditions should be properly treated and precautions should be taken to reduce risks.
There is a less invasive form of surgery called endovascular surgery which does not require a large incision in the abdominal cavity, and usually has a lower risk for complications. This procedure involves the insertion of a graft into the blood which is threaded into the aneurysm to cut off blood flow. It is especially useful in patients who may not survive a traditional surgery due to preexisting health problems, but it is not appropriate for every situation and should be weighed against other options to determine the safest and most effective form of treatment.