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Disease Information : AAA : Treatment

AAA : Treatment

AAA Treatment Options

If the AAA is larger than 5-6 centimeters in diameter (about the size of a lemon), it will require treatment. Your physician’s decision to repair will be based on the risk of the aneurysm rupturing, along with surgical or procedure risks, and risks associated with other pre-existing conditions. Smaller aneurysms that cause back or abdominal pain may also need treatment, especially for those that are enlarging rapidly.

Surgical treatment of AAA has been performed routinely in the U.S. for about 50 years. It is a very successful and durable procedure. During the surgery, the surgeon makes an abdominal incision, then replaces the diseased part of the aorta with a Dacron or Teflon graft that is carefully matched to the normal aorta. This graft is sewn in place by the surgeon. Most patients stay in the hospital for five to ten days if no complications occur. Complete recovery from the operation may take one to two months before returning to a full and normal life.

After 50 years of experience with these procedures, the facts show that more than 90 percent of patients make a full recovery from surgery. Once patients have recovered, their aneurysms are permanently cured!

Less Invasive Treatments of AAA

Recent advances in catheter-based technologies have led to exciting new treatments for aortic aneurysms. Now, endovascular grafting technology allows the repair of the AAA by inserting a graft through a small incision in the groin. The endovascular method allows the graft to be delivered through a catheter or tube inserted in a groin artery. X-ray guidance is then used to accurately position the graft in the AAA. The graft is then expanded inside the aorta and held in place with metallic hooks rather than sutures. The hospital stay is usually only one or two days, and most patients can return to work or normal daily activities in about a week. Patients with other medical problems or those that could not withstand major surgery can be considered for repair by an endovascular graft.

Endovascular grafting may not be possible in every case. Endovascular grafts are specially manufactured and don't "fit" everyone's anatomical situation. Standard surgery may still be the best option for many. As a fairly new procedure, endografts do not yet have a fifty-year track record to compare to that of surgery for AAA. Speak with your physician about the best option for you.

The combination of earlier diagnosis with safer, simpler, and ever more successful treatments can prevent needless deaths due to ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms.

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