A bulge (enlarged and thinning, like a bulge on a bicycle tire) that occurs in a part of the aorta (the main blood vessel that carries blood from heart to the rest of the body) that passes through the abdomen (stomach area). The bulge of the aorta is due to a weakening in the blood vessel wall.
The most common testing to determine the size of your aneurysm is an abdominal ultrasound, CT scan angiogram or magnetic resonance image (MRI).
If your AAA is small, your doctor may recommend periodic check-ups to monitor if the AAA is growing in size. These check-ups may either be an abdominal ultrasound or follow-up CT scan or MRI of your abdomen.
If your doctor has determined that your AAA has reached a size for treatment, he or she may recommend endovascular intervention with a stent or traditional open surgery. Before having any treatment, you will be scheduled for several pre-procedural tests and will have a diagnostic angiogram to measure your aneurysm invasively and determine if your aneurysm is a candidate for endovascular repair. Not all patients are candidates for AAA endovascular repair with a stent.
If your pre-procedural testing and diagnostic angiogram confirm that you are a candidate for a AAA stent, a custom stent will be ordered based on the measurements of your aneurysm. Our office will contact you once the stent has arrived to schedule your procedure. The stent placement procedure will be performed in the catheterization lab at the hospital.
You will be given sedation medication to relax you and the anesthesiologist will insert a breathing tube to control your breathing during the procedure. Both legs at your groin will then be shaved and cleaned with a special soap. The surgeon will then make small incisions (three to four inches) on each hip (near the crease between the abdomen and thigh).
A small tube will be placed in each incision. Your doctor will then place each part of the stent graft separately into your aorta. Once both parts of the stent graft are connected, blood should flow through the stent device instead of the AAA. The doctor will then take X-rays to confirm the blood is flowing through the stent graft and not the aneurysm.
The doctor will then place stitches in each leg. The breathing tube is usually removed in the recovery room.
You will recover overnight in the hospital. Approximately 90 percent of patients are discharged the following afternoon. Your doctor will schedule you for outpatient testing and follow-up.
Contact your physician if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Pain, numbness or weakness in the legs, back, chest or abdomen
- Leg or hip pain when walking
- Leg coolness
- Swelling, redness or drainage at incision sites