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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm ?

This is a ballooning out of the wall of the aorta caused by pressure of the flowing blood that pushes a weakened wall of the aorta outwards. This commonly occurs in the segment of the aorta that is below the renal arteries.

When should this be treated ?

When an aneurysm is more than one and a half times the diameter of the adjacent normal aorta or its diameter is more than 5 cms, it is considered as a high risk for rupture and should be treated.

Preventing rupture is very important as chances of survival with a ruptured aneurysm are low. With as many as 80 % of cases with ruptured aneurysms resulting in death.

What are the risk factors for getting an Aortic Aneurysm ?
Age : It is common is people over the age of 65 years.
Smoking : Smokers have a high risk of getting this condition as compared to non smokers.
Uncontrolled blood pressure : This is also a risk factor.

What are the symptoms of an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm ?

This condition can be present without any symptoms in a few patients.
When there are symptoms, they can be :
Abdominal pain that radiates to the back or buttocks.
Feeling a pulse in the abdomen.

A ruptured AAA can cause :
Fainting, paleness, sudden severe abdominal pain, shaking, palpitations and other signs of shock.

How is it diagnosed ?

A physical examination can make a physician suspicious of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Tests like an Abdominal Ultrasound, a CT Angiogram and a MR Angiogram con confirm the diagnosis.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm -What are the treatment options?

Observation : Observing a small aortic aneurysm that is not more than 5 cms in diameter and is nor rapidly growing.
Surgery : The aneurysm is cur open and a graft is sutured within the aorta to act as a bridge and connects the segment above the aneurysm to the normal segment below. This is a major surgery.

Abdominal Aortic Stent Graft placement :
This minimally invasive procedure is done by an Interventional Radiologist. An impermeable stent graft is inserted through a small incision in the leg and is positioned across the aneurysm and is then deployed. Blood no longer fills the aneurysm and it is bypassed by using the stent graft.
This method prevents the patient from undergoing a major abdominal surgery. Also, clamping the aorta during open surgical repair puts a lot of stress on the heart and patients with severe heart disease cannot tolerate this major procedure.

What is the recovery time after the interventional repair?

Patients require a shorter hospital stay as compared to the open surgical candidates.

How is the procedure done ?