February 01, 2013

Aortic aneurysm

Safer surgery for bulging abdominal artery

Aortic aneurysm

Doctors have been monitoring the bulge (aneurysm) in your aorta — the main artery in your abdomen — for several years. Although it's been growing slowly, it's now large enough that surgical repair is recommended. Since the aneurysm is in your abdominal area, you imagine repairing it will require a large incision in your belly and a long recovery time.

However, you're surprised when your surgeon recommends a procedure that won't require an abdominal incision. In fact, it may not require an incision at all. And you'll likely be out of the hospital the day after the procedure.

Not long ago, open surgery to repair aortic aneurysms was the go-to procedure for most people. Now, for about 60 percent of those requiring aortic aneurysm repair, the repairs are made using instruments and devices that are fed into the aorta through a small incision in the groin area — or through a small puncture hole in the lower abdomen that's closed with a simple adhesive bandage and no stitches.

These surgical improvements — in addition to improving management of aortic aneurysms — have led to a 36 percent reduction in deaths from the condition in the past decade.

A weakened artery

Your aorta exits the top of your heart and curves downward through the chest and abdomen. It's the largest artery in the body, with other major arteries branching off it to supply blood to the brain, arms, internal organs and legs.

An aneurysm occurs when one or more areas along...