What is Aortic Aneurysm Surgery?
Aortic aneurysm is a condition characterized by an abnormal ballooning or bulging of a section of the aorta due to weakness in the wall of the blood vessel. The aorta is the main blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the different parts of the body. An aneurysm can develop anywhere along the course of the aorta.
- Aneurysm that occurs in the section of the aorta that passes through the abdomen is called abdominal aneurysm.
- Aneurysm that occurs in the part of the aorta that passes through the chest is called thoracic aortic aneurysm.
Most patients with aortic aneurysm do not have any symptoms. Usually, when the aneurysm enlarges it may cause chest or back pain, palpitations, fatigue, dizziness or shortness of breath.
Surgical aneurysm repair is usually recommended if conservative measures fail to relieve the symptoms of aortic aneurysm or there is a risk of rupture due to the large size of the aneurysm.
Procedure of Aortic Aneurysm Surgery
During aortic aneurysm surgery, the aneurysm is exposed through dissection of the chest. A heart-lung machine is connected to the patient's body to maintain blood circulation during the surgery. At the same time, clamps are placed on the aorta, above and below the aneurysm, and the damaged portion of the aorta is removed and is replaced with a synthetic tube or graft. Permanent wire sutures are used to join the breast bone or the sternum, which was dissected to approach the aorta. The skin and muscles are closed with dissolving sutures.
Stent graft procedure may be used to repair an aortic aneurysm in patients at high risk from surgery. During the procedure, a stent-graft is placed inside the diseased portion of the aorta to help protect the aneurysm from rupturing.
Postoperative Care for Aortic Aneurysm Surgery
After the surgical repair of the aneurysm, patients are advised certain lifestyle changes such as abstinence from smoking, avoid lifting heavy objects, and blood pressure control to improve their condition.