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All about aortic aneurysm repair

Caused by a vulnerability in the blood vessel wall, an aneurysm is a bulge that expands over the size of about one inch (or between 2 and 3cm) as the pressure of flowing blood pushes against it. Nobody is sure exactly what leads to an aneurysm but genetic predisposition, smoking and hypertension have all been blamed. As the bulge grows, it risks bursting and this can be fatal as it causes massive internal bleeding and needs immediate medical attention.

The aneurysm ruptures

Risk factor
The risk of developing an aortic aneurysm is much higher in those who are older than 65, particularly men. Statistics seem to show that men have a higher chance of the disease. Unfortunately, if an anaeurysm has not ruptured, it is usually asymptomatic, and patients are only diagnosed in many cases during routine examinations. However, diagnostic tests such as ultrasounds or X-rays can help to reveal the presence of an aneurysm.
Risk evaluation If the medical staff deem the risk of an aneurysm to be too high, they will recommend surgery be performed as soon as possible. This is usually the case when the aneurysm has grown to a size of more than 2 inches (5.5 cm). However, doctors may also decide to act if the aneurysm is growing particularly quickly or if there is a family history of the disease.

Repairing the aneurysm

Traditional operation
Considerable risk is attached to operating on somebody who has aortic complications. Usually, a doctor will try to cut out the offending part of the aorta and replace it with a graft, or artificial piece of artery. However, although there is always the risk of death, many operations are successful, and when they are, the problem is satisfactorily resolved. Endovascular repair
A newer technique allows the aorta to be repaired by a method called endovascular repair. During this less risky operation, a tube is inserted through one of the leg arteries into the location of the aneurysm. The tube is then attached to the non-affected aorta wall with metal clips. Fortunately, this method of repair requires no surgery, although some patients may have to undergo further surgery later to clear up anything that was missed on the first attempt.

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