Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair

The aorta is the largest artery in the body. The abdominal portion of the aorta carries blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs. Sometimes the walls of the aorta weaken and bulge in one area. This is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). AAAs are most often caused by atherosclerosis , also known as hardening of arteries, and high blood pressure .

  • Call Your Doctor

    After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge at the incision site
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • New abdominal pain
    • Back pain
    • Any change of color or sensation in your legs or feet
    • Burning, pain, or problems when urinating
    • Nausea or vomiting

    • Abdominal cramps or diarrhea

    • Unusual fatigue or depression
    • Disorientation or confusion
    • Numbness or tingling in the legs
    • New, unexplained symptoms
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain

    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition


    The aorta is the largest artery in the body. The abdominal portion of the aorta carries blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs. Sometimes the walls of the aorta weaken and bulge in one area. This is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). AAAs are most often caused by
    atherosclerosis
    , also known as hardening of arteries, and
    high blood pressure
    .

    Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
    Abdominal aortic aneurysm
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

    The procedure varies. It can be done before a rupture as a preventive measure or after a rupture on an emergency basis. The preventive procedure is outlined here.

  • Reasons for Procedure

    Surgery to repair an AAA is often done when the aneurysm:

    • Causes physical symptoms such as abdominal pain
    • Reaches a size of five centimeters (2 inches) across or has been growing rapidly. Smaller aneurysms are watched closely. They are rarely repaired with surgery.
    • Has burst—Surgery must be done right away.

    Preventive AAA surgery generally has a good outcome for people who are relatively healthy. Emergency surgery to fix an AAA rupture has a much lower survival rate, due to the rapid loss of blood.

  • Possible Complications

    Your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

    • Problems from
      general anesthesia, including lightheadedness, low blood pressure, and wheezing
    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Damage to organs
    • Death

    Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Smoking
    • Heart disease

    • Previous episodes of
      transient ischemic attack (TIA)
      or stroke
    • Lung disease
    • Weakness due to cancer
    • Diabetes
    • Obesity