Aortic Aneurysm (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor might recommend that you take medicines, such as statins, to lower it. Having high cholesterol increases your risk of atherosclerosis, which can cause aortic aneurysms and other conditions, such as coronary artery disease and stroke.
Thoracic or abdominal aortic aneurysms that are large, causing symptoms, or rapidly getting bigger are considered at risk of rupturing. Surgery is usually recommended if any one of these factors is present. Your doctor will consider:
When making a decision about surgery for an aortic aneurysm, the benefits in relation to the risks of surgery must be considered, as well as the risks of major surgery. People who are at significant risk from surgery may elect to use medical management or another technique such as a stent graft procedure.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms
In men, surgery is typically recommended for abdominal aortic aneurysms that are causing symptoms or that are 5.5 cm or larger in diameter. In women, surgery may be recommended for smaller aneurysms.
Surgery is also recommended for small aneurysms that have grown more than .5 cm in 6 months.
The decision to have surgery, delay surgery, or not have surgery at all depends on other things too. These may include older age or medical problems that make surgery more dangerous.
Surgical repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms
Both traditional (open) surgery and endovascular aortic repair are used to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms. Talk to your doctor about which surgery is best for you.
Traditional (open) surgery. If you have open surgery, your doctor will make a large cut in your chest or belly. Then, your aneurysm will be removed and the damaged portion of your blood vessel will be replaced with a man-made graft. For more information about open surgery, see surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Endovascular repair. If you have an endovascular repair, a tube called a stent graft is inserted through an artery in the groin. The stent graft makes a bridge between the healthy parts of the aorta (above and below the aneurysm). Although this procedure works well right away, experts do not know enough about its long-term effects. Because of this, you will need regular X-rays or CT scans for as long as you have the graft. For more information about endovascular repair, see Endovascular repair with a stent for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
For more information about surgical and endovascular repair, see:
Thoracic aortic aneurysms
Your doctor will recommend that you have surgery for a thoracic aortic aneurysm based on many things. These include:
Surgeons and institutions around the country have differing experiences with aortic aneurysms and may follow different protocols in the treatment of the disease. The most important thing to remember is that every case is unique and complicated. You should work with your doctor to decide which treatment is best for you.
If surgery is chosen, your doctor will evaluate your overall health, including assessments of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system, the kidneys, and the gastrointestinal system. The decision whether to have surgery is based on the outcome of these evaluations. The risk of death or injury during the operation increases if other disease is present.
It is not an option to wait until an aneurysm has ruptured before surgery is done. Most people who have a ruptured aortic aneurysm die. Surgery for a ruptured aneurysm is dangerous because of the large amount of blood loss.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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