Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
An aneurysm is a weakened area of the wall of the artery in the abdomen in which it enlarges two or three times. The result is a weakened spot that can rupture spontaneously causing sudden death. The abdominal aorta is located in the abdomen between the chest and the belly button. The diagnosis of an aneurysm is usually made with an ultrasound or a CT body scan. Most aneurysms are found without symptoms. When an aneurysm reaches 4 to 5 cm (2.5 inches), it usually requires removal because of the risk of sudden, spontaneous rupture. The standard operative procedure consists of removal of that portion of the aorta and placement of an artificial graft. This requires a five to seven day hospital stay with two to three days in the intensive care unit. There is an operative risk of five to eight percent. Bowel preparation is usually required for this procedure.
New procedures to treat these aneurysms involve placement of an artificial graft through the artery in the leg into the aorta where it expands to block the aneurysm from rupturing. We were one of the first to perform this procedure in Mobile and continue to offer it to selected patients. One halfof the patients with abdominal aneurysms will qualify for this new procedure. We attempt to choose the correct procedure to repair an aneurysm based on multiple factors. Because this is a complex decision, it is best discussed with your doctor.