What to Expect
In recent years, a treatment has been developed to repair an aneurysm without major surgery. Many surgeons have been using less invasive endovascular surgery on abdominal aortic aneurysms. The procedure results in less blood loss, less trauma to the aorta and fewer (or no) days in intensive care. Because results with endovascular repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms have been encouraging, similar techniques are being developed for the treatment of thoracic aortic aneurysms as well.
Instead of open aneurysm repair, if your aneurysm location and shape is suitable, your aortic surgeon may consider a promising, newer procedure called an endovascular stent graft. Endovascular means that the treatment is performed inside your body using long, thin tubes called catheters. The catheters are inserted in small incisions in your groin, and sometimes your arms, and are guided through your blood vessels. During the procedure, your surgeon will use live X-ray pictures viewed on a video screen to guide a stent-graft to the site of your aneurysm. Like the graft used in open surgery, this stent-graft allows blood to flow through your aorta without putting pressure on the damaged wall of your aneurysm. This keeps your aneurysm from rupturing. Over time, your aneurysm usually will shrink. Endovascular stent-graft repair requires a shorter recovery time than open aneurysm repair, and your hospital stay is reduced to two of three days. However, this treatment may not be applicable to all TAAs, since your aneurysm must have a suitable shape to allow the stent-graft to be used effectively. With the endovascular stent-graft repair, it is particularly important that long-term follow-up with periodic scans of the aortic repair be done to be sure that the stent-graft is functioning properly. Sometimes further procedures are required to maintain the stent-graft if leaks develop or if it moves out of position. Experts are still studying the long-term results of endovascular stent-graft repair.
Your aortic surgeon will advise you regarding the best option for your situation.