An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a potentially fatal balloon-like swelling of a segment of the aorta, the largest artery in the body.

A physician performs an abdominal aortic aneurysm repair to fix a weakened portion of the aorta located in the abdomen. The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body, including the abdomen. A weakened aorta can balloon out, becoming thin, large, and fragile. This ballooning is called an aneurysm. As it progresses, there is risk of rupture, with massive internal bleeding.

Traditional AAA repair is an open-abdomen (or open-chest) surgery.  The bulging aneurysm part of the aorta is removed, an artificial graft is put in its place, and the remaining aortic end-pieces are reattached to the graft.

Minimally Invasive Repair

Alternatively, a less invasive surgery involves placing a stent graft to cover the aneurysm.  Blood flows thru the stent, entirely bypassing the aneurysm, thus preventing rupture, and excludes the aneurysm from the circulation. This less invasive procedure can decrease length of stay and recovery time significantly. In an abdominal aortic stent graft procedure used to repair this defect, a catheter is guided through a small incision in the upper thigh through the large blood vessel to the site of the aortic aneurysm in the abdomen.

Once it is properly positioned, the stent graft (a woven polyester tube covered by a tubular metal web) is released from the delivery catheter, which is then withdrawn.  The stent graft remains in place and allows blood to flow through the stent, entirely bypassing the aneurysm, and thus substantially reducing the risk of rupture.

This minimally invasive surgery was first performed at Lourdes Hospital in 2000 and offers a shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery time for patients who otherwise would require major abdominal surgery to correct the aneurysm.

Where is the procedure performed?

Surgical repair for an AAA is done in the operating room under general anesthesia. Repair of an AAA using a stent  is performed by an interventional cardiologist in an operating room. Your physician can discuss which option is best for you.

How long does this procedure  take?

AAA repair usually takes 3 to 5 hours.