The team of surgeons and the nursing staff at Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano have the expertise and advanced technology to care for aortic aneurysms, whether it be prevention, management or open heart and interventional surgery. Continue reading to learn more about treatment options.
Aortic aneurysms are treated with medicines and surgery. Small aneurysms that are found early and aren't causing symptoms may not need treatment. Other aneurysms need to be treated.
The goals of treatment may include:
Treatment for an aortic aneurysm is based on its size. Your doctor may recommend routine testing to make sure an aneurysm isn't getting bigger. This method usually is used for aneurysms that are smaller than 5 centimeters (about 2 inches) across.
How often you need testing (for example, every few months or every year) is based on the size of the aneurysm and how fast it's growing. The larger it is and the faster it's growing, the more often you may need to be checked.
If you have an aortic aneurysm, your doctor may prescribe medicines before surgery or instead of surgery. Medicines are used to lower blood pressure, relax blood vessels, and lower the risk that the aneurysm will rupture. Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers are the medicines most commonly used.
Your doctor may recommend surgery if your aneurysm is growing quickly or is at risk of rupture or dissection.
The two main types of surgery to repair aortic aneurysms are open abdominal or open chest repair and endovascular repair.
Open Abdominal or Open Chest Repair
The standard and most common type of surgery for aortic aneurysms is open abdominal or open chest repair. This surgery involves a major incision in the abdomen or chest. General anesthesia is used during this procedure.
During the surgery, the aneurysm is removed. Then, the section of aorta is replaced with a graft made of material such as Dacron® or Teflon®. The surgery takes 3 to 6 hours; you'll remain in the hospital for 5 to 8 days.
If needed, repair of the aortic heart valve also may be done during open abdominal or open chest surgery.
It often takes a month to recover from open abdominal or open chest surgery and return to full activity. Most patients make a full recovery.
Endovascular Aortic Aneurysm Repair
In endovascular repair, the aneurysm isn't removed. Instead, a graft is inserted into the aorta to strengthen it. Surgeons do this type of surgery using catheters inserted into the arteries; it doesn't require surgically opening the chest or abdomen. General anesthesia is used during this procedure.
The surgeon first inserts a catheter into an artery in the groin and threads it to the aneurysm. Then, using an x-ray to see the artery, the surgeon threads the graft into the aorta to the aneurysm.
The graft is then expanded inside the aorta and fastened in place to form a stable channel for blood flow. The graft reinforces the weakened section of the aorta. This helps prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.
The recovery time for endovascular repair is less than the recovery time for open abdominal or open chest repair. However, doctors can't repair all aortic aneurysms with endovascular repair. The location or size of an aneurysm may prevent the use of a stent graft.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
For patients presenting with acute aortic dissections and other thoracic aortic emergencies,
call our Patient Transfer Center at 214.820.6444 from anywhere across the DFW Metroplex and beyond.
Physicians are members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Health Care System's subsidiary, community or affiliated medical centers and are neither employees nor agents of those medical centers, Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano or Baylor Health Care System.