The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It begins at the heart and runs through the chest and abdomen. Sometimes the walls of the aorta weaken and bulge in one area. An aortic repair is a surgery to create a support for the weakened area.
Reasons for Procedure
To prevent rupture (bursting) of an aneurysm, which causes severe, life-threatening bleeding
To remove a ruptured aneurysm and repair the damaged aorta
If you are planning to have an aortic aneurysm repair, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
general anesthesia (eg, light-headedness, low blood pressure, wheezing)
Blood clot formation
Damage to organs or tissue
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Depending on the location of the aneurysm, blood flow may need to be passed to a heart-lung machine. The machine will temporarily do the jobs of the heart and lungs.
An incision will be made over the area of the aneurysm. This may be in the abdomen or chest. The aorta will be clamped off above and below the aneurysm. The doctor will open the aneurysm and clean out any debris. The graft will be sewn into place to reconnect the two ends of the aorta. The tissue of the aneurysm will then be wrapped around the outside of the graft.
When the graft is properly in place, the clamps will be released. This will allow blood flow to resume through the aorta. The incision will be closed, using either stitches or staples. The area will be covered with a sterile dressing.
Some aneurysms can be repaired without the need for a large abdominal incision (percutaneously). Instead, punctures are made in the arteries in the groin. Not all patients are suited for this procedure. Your doctor will discuss your options with you.
You will be brought to a recovery room after surgery. You will be monitored there for any negative effects from the surgery or anesthesia.
How Long Will It Take?
One to a few hours
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. The incision will cause some pain after the surgery. Talk to your doctor about medicines to help you manage the pain.
Average Hospital Stay
The usual length of stay is 4-7 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
At the Hospital
You will need to stay in the intensive care unit for the first day or so after surgery. You will then be moved to a regular hospital room.
For the first day or two, you will be hooked up to monitors to track your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels. Your doctor may also order blood tests, chest x-rays, EKG, and an ultrasound of the repaired area of the aorta.
You may have some tubes in place, which may include the following:
Urinary catheter—monitors urine output
Arterial catheter—monitors blood pressure
Central venous catheter—monitors pressure in the heart
Epidural catheter—provides pain medicine
Nasogastric tube—inserted through the nose and into the stomach to remove secretions and provide nutrition until your intestines regain normal function
You may be asked to use an incentive spirometer, to breathe deeply, and to cough frequently. This will help improve lung function after general anesthesia.
You may be given special compression stockings to wear after surgery. They may help decrease the possibility of blood clots forming in your legs.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Follow any discharge instructions to care for the wound.
Gradually return to your normal activities.
To help prevent further problems, you and your doctor will need to work to increase your overall health. Atherosclerosis and high blood pressure should be managed carefully. This can be done with medicines and a healthy lifestyle. If you are a smoker, you should talk to your doctor about quitting.
Recovery takes about six weeks. If you had symptoms from your aneurysm before the surgery, you may notice some improvements in your health. You may find you have more strength and less swelling in your legs. You may also have lower blood pressure, improved energy, and absence of pain from the aneurysm.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Signs of infection, including fever and chills
Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
Pain or swelling in your abdomen
Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given after surgery, or which persist for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
Pain, burning, urgency or frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urine
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a