HOW IS AN ABDOMINAL AORTIC ANEURYSM TREATED?
There is no medical treatment for aneurysms. People with small aneurysms are encouraged to not smoke and control their blood pressure.
There are two methods to repair aneurysms. Both involve surgery.
Open Surgical Repair
The traditional treatment for AAA is a surgical procedure performed under general anaesthetic. The surgeon opens the aneurysm and sews a vascular graft in place to replace the diseased artery. In skilled hands, this procedure can be performed with low morbidity/mortality. This is major surgery but it is important to note, however, that once the AAA is repaired by open surgery it is uncommon that there will be any lasting problems or need for further intervention.
In this new, less invasive technique, a catheter, or small tube, is inserted into the arteries through a small incision in the groin. Under x-ray guidance, a vascular endograft is delivered through the catheter and placed inside the aneurysm. This endograft fits snugly into the normal artery above and below the aneurysm and so forms a new pathway for the blood to flow thus excluding the aneurysm sac. Patients go home the next day and frequently are able to resume normal activity by one week.
Complications such as gangrene of the leg, claudication, kidney failure, bowel ischaemia, need for colostomy, pneumonia, paralysis and heart attack can still occur with this procedure, however sexual dysfunction should not occur.
Unfortunately, not all patients are candidates for this type of procedure. The vascular surgeon must evaluate each patient on a case-by-case basis and approximately twenty percent of patients may require a further procedure in the future to fix problems that may develop over time with the graft or the aneurysm sac. Therefore long-term surveillance of the patient must be performed usually by means of a CT scan or ultrasound. A few patients have ruptured the AAA despite an apparently successful procedure.