Abdominal aortic aneurysm can be a serious health condition. It is cured with the help of surgery. In this article you will get a brief overview of abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery.
The aorta is the largest artery present in our body. Approximately, the diameter of an aorta is same as that of a garden hose. The aorta is stretched from the heart to the abdomen. It is responsible for carrying oxygen containing blood from the chest region to the abdominal area. Then the blood is distributed in various blood vessels for the purpose of supplying it to the legs.
The term aortic aneurysm defines an unnatural swelling that takes place in the aorta wall. Usually, when the diameter of the aorta becomes one and a half times or more than its actual size, it is known as aneurysm. When there is continuous increase in the aneurysm, surgery is needed. Abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery is performed by a vascular surgeon.
The main cause of aortic aneurysm is believed to be atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a health condition in which the artery walls are hardened as a result of thick deposition of cholesterol and other fatty substances on its walls. It can also occur when the artery walls are torn due to some accidents. Sometimes, it can also happen due to weak artery walls caused by high blood pressure or excessive smoking. In certain cases, aneurysm is found to be hereditary.
The symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm include abdominal pain or lower back pain. Sometimes, patients sense the pulse in the abdominal region. It can be detected by the doctor with the help of a physical examination where existence of a soft tissue can be felt in the abdomen. Other tests that are conducted are ultrasound, CT scan (computerized tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), etc., for confirming aneurysm.
The treatment of this condition mainly depends upon three factors. They are – size of the bulge, location of the bulge or aneurysm, and the health condition of the patient. If the swelling is less, then the doctor will keep the patient under observation. However, when it is found that the size is increasing rapidly, then there is fear of a rupture in the artery wall that can be fatal. In such a situation, the best option for treatment available for the un-ruptured aneurysm is surgery.
Conventionally, the treatment involves an open chest surgery or open abdominal surgery, depending upon the location of the aneurysm. In this type of surgery, the affected part of the artery wall is replaced by an artificial graft by means of surgical incision. It is fixed up on the aorta with the help of a suture material in such a way that it works like a bridge and facilitates normal blood flow through the implanted graft. Thus, the walls of the weak aorta will not be subjected to pressure of the blood, and its further expansion will be prevented.
Today, such a major surgery can be averted by another new technique of surgery which is also known as endovascular surgery. In this form of surgery, a thin tube or catheter is put into the bloodstream through an artery present in the groin area. The catheter consists of a graft made of some synthetic material which is kept in a metal cylinder.
The movement of the catheter inside the body is monitored with the help of an X-ray monitor. The graft is placed in the exact position where the aorta has weakened due to aneurysm. This graft undergoes expansion and strengthens the weak aorta. The metallic cylinder prevents the supply of blood to the aneurysm, and makes the blood flow through the graft. In this way, the aneurysm reduces over a period of time.
There are several advantages of abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery. It is particularly good for those who have other health complications. It requires far less invasion than the open chest surgery. As a result, there is less quantity of blood loss involved in it. It does not require the patient to be in intensive care for a long time. In certain cases, the patient does not spend even a single day in intensive care.