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The goal in treating an abdominal aortic aneurysm is to keep the aneurysm from bursting or rupturing. Depending on the size and condition of your aneurysm, this may be done by watchful waiting or by repairing the aneurysm.
Not all abdominal aortic aneurysms need surgery. If your aneurysm is small, your doctor may decide to wait and watch carefully to see if there are any changes.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce it. If you smoke, your doctor may suggest that you find help in quitting. Your doctor may also ask you to make changes in your diet or exercise habits.
If the doctor feels there is a risk that the aortic aneurysm will burst, he or she may recommend one of two aneurysm repair methods: either open surgical repair or endovascular stent grafting.
With open surgical repair, the surgeon makes a large cut, or incision, into your abdomen where the aneurysm exists. The area damaged by the aneurysm is then separated surgically from the main part of the aorta and replaced with a synthetic tube (known as an aortic graft), that is sewn into place.
Open surgical repair of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is performed under general anaesthesia and takes about 3 to 4 hours. You can expect to spend 1 day in an intensive care unit and remain in the hospital for 7 to 10 days.
A less invasive alternative to open surgical repair is endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) using a special device called an endovascular stent graft. The stent graft is placed inside the damaged area of the aorta to separate the aneurysm from the normal blood flow. It is designed to be placed without surgically opening the aorta.
Because endovascular aneurysm repair is less invasive than open surgery, you can expect your hospital stay to be shorter – typically as short as 2 to 4 days.
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