Abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery (AAA) is a procedure performed to repair a weakening of the wall of the aorta that has caused the blood vessel to bulge abnormally. The aorta is a large blood vessel that comes from the heart and extends down to abdomen, where it divides into two blood vessels that deliver blood supply to each leg. Some individuals diagnosed with this condition may need to undergo an abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery to fix the problem and prevent complications.
One serious complication that can arise is rupture of the wall of the aorta, often resulting in internal bleeding, which is often a life-threatening situation. Common symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture are nausea, increased heart rate, vomiting, and abdominal pain that occurs suddenly. Most of the time, the pain is severe and persistent, and may radiate towards the back, legs, and groin area.
An open abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery is often done immediately on patients found to have ruptured aneurysms. Surgeons usually make an incision, or cut, along the abdomen of the patient in order to gain access to the aorta. After removing the weakened wall, an artificial graft is then placed in the area. Complications of open surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm include nerve injury, wound infections, bleeding during or after the operation, and decreased delivery of blood to the legs and other organs.
Another method often used to treat patients with a large AAA is endovascular surgery, which is less invasive than open surgery. It is usually done by inserting an endoscope, or a thin tube, in a blood vessel of the leg until it reaches the abdominal aorta to be repaired. A graft attached to the tip of the endoscope is then left in place inside the weak wall to prevent rupture. There are generally fewer and less serious complications associated with this type of abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery. Patients who receive this treatment generally have shorter hospital stays, less blood loss during surgery, and faster recovery times.
Some patients with smaller AAAs are generally monitored to evaluate if the condition progresses and if they are at increased risk of developing complications. Many of these patients may not experience any symptoms. If the aneurysm is found to be getting larger, patients are frequently advised to undergo an abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery.