Your abdominal aorta is a blood vessel about the size of a garden hose that runs downs the middle of your torso to supply blood to the lower half of your body. An abdominal aortic aneurysm, or an AAA, is a weak spot in your aorta that bulges, like a tiny balloon. Most often, AAA develops with little to no symptoms. Nearly 90% of AAAs that rupture are fatal, and nearly 10,000 Americans die each year of a ruptured AAA.
When you’re diagnosed with AAA, it could be a “wait and see” situation that may never need intervention or it could be an emergency situation requiring immediate repair. When repair is needed, you and your Vascular Specialists surgeon will discuss the options that make the most sense for both the condition of your AAA and your overall health.
At Vascular Specialists, because Dr. Tanquilut and Dr. Pradhan are trained in both vascular (traditional, open) and endovascular (minimally invasive) techniques, it’s your health that will determine which procedures we use – and we’re the only surgeons in the Chicago Southland that can use both techniques in one procedure if necessary, giving you the absolute best outcome possible.
Who is a candidate for endovascular AAA repair?
Patients who will be most successful having minimally invasive AAA repair are typically older, with health complications that may make the open repair surgery and recovery very challenging.
Who is a candidate for open AAA repair?
Open repair candidates will, after a successful repair, expect to live at least 10 more years. They should be in good health overall and be able to tolerate a strenuous recovery.
What happens during open AAA repair?
You’ll receive general anesthesia, which means you won’t be awake for the procedure. Dr. Tanquilut or Dr. Pradhan will make an incision, usually from just below your breastbone to just below your bellybutton. Depending upon the location of your AAA, you may find your incision across your abdomen instead. Your surgeon will clamp, or pinch, your aorta both above and below your AAA to stop the flow of blood. The aneurysm will be opened and a graft, made of cloth and wire, will be inserted and stitched into place. The clamps are removed and your aorta is stitched closed. The main incision is then stitched closed. The entire procedure can take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours and you may have to stay in the hospital for up to a week to recover. You should be able to return to normal activities in about a month.
Are there complications?
As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection, blood clots and bleeding after your procedure. Some complications are more likely with AAA open repair than other procedures:
• Cardiac complications
• Renal failure, usually in patients with preexisting renal disease
• Retrograde ejaculation, when semen enters the bladder instead of exiting the penis during orgasm.
How do I know if I have an AAA?
Medicare Part B will cover your AAA ultrasound screening if you meet just one of these risk factors:
• a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms.
• you are a male 65 to 75 years old who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your lifetime.
Call Vascular Specialists immediately if you have:
• pulsating pain near your navel or belly button
• deep, constant pain in your abdomen
• unexplained back pain
• cold foot or feet, with blue or black toe(s)
• unexplained fever or weight loss
To schedule a AAA screening, call Vascular Specialists at (815) 824-4406 or click here. Dr. Tanquilut, Dr. Pradhan and our professional staff will be happy to answer your questions.