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Aortic Aneurysm

Aortic Aneurysm

The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It starts at the heart and runs down the chest and abdomen until it divides to supply the legs.
 
If the walls of the aorta weaken, a bulge called an aneurysm can develop. If it is not treated, it can rupture and cause life-threatening problems.
 
Aneurysms often don’t cause any symptoms, so detecting them early is critical. Aneurysms can be detected with a simple, painless ultrasound. You should be screened for an aneurysm if you have a family member with an aneurysm or if you have ever smoked.
 
The care team at REX Vascular Specialists is trained in all aspects of aneurysm care. We offer minimally invasive ways to treat aneurysms that we use whenever possible, and we also offer traditional open repair. We are currently the only site in Wake County able to offer complex endovascular fenestrated repair for abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is a less invasive option for patients who are good candidates.

What to expect: Aneurysm Repair

Before the procedure

  • Visit your physician to make sure any medical problems are being treated and controlled.
  • Ask your physician which medicines you should take on the day of your surgery.
  • Let your physician know about any cold, flu, fever or other illness you may have before your surgery.
  • The day of your surgery, do not drink anything, including water, after midnight.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.

During the procedure

  • A small incision will be made in the groin.
  • Catheters will be used to thread a fabric tube supported by wire stents to the site. This is called a stent graft.
  • Your doctor will use X-rays to guide the catheter. When it arrives at the aneurysm, the stent graft is released from its carrier. It then springs out and works like a sleeve.
  • The stent graft relines the aorta and reinforces the weakened area, allowing blood to pass through without pushing on the aneurysm.  

After the procedure

  • You will be sent to the recovery room, where you will be monitored closely by nurses until you have awakened from the anesthesia.
  • Most people stay in the hospital for a day or two after this surgery.
  • As soon as you are able after surgery, you will start to walk short distances on a flat surface.
  • You should not drive while taking pain medication. 

After discharge

  • Limit going up and down stairs to twice a day for 2 to 3 days.
  • Do not work, drive, or play for the number of days your doctor tells you to wait.
  • Walk short distances 3 to 4 times a day. Slowly increase how far you walk each time.
  • When not walking, keep your legs higher than the level of your heart.
  • Ask your doctor about follow-up x-rays and appointments you will need to have to check if your new graft is okay.

Your physician may ask you to take aspirin or another blood thinner. They keep your blood from forming clots in your arteries or stent. Do not stop taking them without talking with your doctor first.

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