Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair Surgery: Before Your Surgery

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What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm repair?

Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair is a type of surgery. It fixes an aneurysm in your aorta. An aneurysm is a weak or bulging part of a vein or artery. Your aorta is a large artery that carries blood from your heart through your belly to the rest of your body.

Without surgery to fix this problem, your aorta could burst. This can cause death.

To do the surgery, the doctor makes a large cut in your belly. This cut is called an incision. Then the doctor puts clamps above and below the weak part of the aorta. This stops blood flow. It allows the doctor to replace the weak part with a tube called a graft. After the graft is in place, the doctor removes the clamps so blood can flow again. Then the doctor uses stitches or staples to close the incision.

You will probably spend 5 to 7 days in the hospital. You will need to take it easy for at least 4 to 6 weeks at home.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You may get an epidural catheter, which is a tiny tube that puts pain medicine into the area in your back around your spinal cord. The epidural will prevent pain after surgery.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take about 2 to 3 hours.
  • You may have a plastic tube in your nose that goes down the back of your throat into your stomach to drain stomach juices. The tube is usually removed 1 to 3 days after surgery.
  • You will be encouraged to get out of bed the day after surgery. You will have lots of help doing this.
  • Your doctor will have you do breathing exercises. These help to keep your lungs healthy.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You do not understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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