Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
An aneurysm is most commonly a result of an accumulation of fatty deposits on the vessel wall but may also relate to heredity, trauma or other disease that weakens the vessel wall. Over time, the vessel wall loses its elasticity, and the force of normal blood pressure in the aneurysm can lead to the rupture of the vessel. When an aneurysm forms in the part of the aorta (one of the body's main blood vessels) that extends through the abdomen, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Most people do not experience any symptoms. During a routine physical examination, your doctor may notice or feel a pulsating mass in the middle or lower part of your abdomen. Many aneurysms are identified when x-rays are performed for other reasons.
If your doctor feels there is a risk that the aneurysm will burst, he will recommend treatment. The standard treatment is conventional surgery which is performed to replace the section of the vessel where the aneurysm has formed. The surgical procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes about three to four hours to complete. The surgeon enters the aneurysm through an incision in the abdomen and replaces the aneurismal portion of the artery with a synthetic graft.
An alternative treatment is Endovascular stent grafting that is a procedure in which a stent graft (a woven polyester tube covered by a tubular metal web) is placed inside a diseased vessel. This alternative treatment may be used for patients who are not good candidates for or who prefer not to undergo conventional surgery and is now available for many patients.
The stent graft is placed inside the aneurysm using a delivery catheter, which is a long tube-like device. When the delivery catheter is properly positioned inside the aneurysm, the stent graft is released from the delivery catheter into the blood vessel. When the stent graft comes into contact with blood, it expands to a pre-set size. After expansion of the stent graft, the delivery catheter is withdrawn and removed. Depending on the shape and size of your aneurysm, additional stent grafts may be placed to assure that the aneurysm is completely reinforced. Imaging procedures allow the doctor to verify that the stent graft is properly placed within the aneurysm. The procedure typically takes two to four hours to complete.
To determine whether this treatment is right for you, it is important to have a thorough discussion with your doctor