Aortic aneurysm repair is surgery to fix a weak and bulging section of the aorta. The aorta is the large blood vessel (artery) that carries blood from the heart through the chest and belly to the rest of the body. An aortic aneurysm that is not repaired may burst (rupture). This can be life-threatening. Your doctor will use a man-made tube (called a graft) to replace the weak section of your aorta in your chest.
The doctor will make a large cut (incision) in your chest. The incision may be made through the breastbone (sternum), or the incision may be in the side of your chest between your ribs. During the surgery, the doctor may connect you to a machine that does the jobs of your heart and lungs (heart-lung bypass machine). This machine will allow the doctor to stop your heartbeat while he or she works on your aorta. The doctor will put clamps on the aorta above and below the aneurysm. This stops blood flow through the area that the doctor is working on. The doctor will replace the weak section of your aorta with a graft. In some cases, the doctor can do surgery without using a heart-lung bypass machine.
After the aorta is repaired, the doctor will remove the clamps so blood can flow through the aorta again. Then the doctor will use stitches or surgical staples to close the incision in your chest.
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 or nurse call line 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.
Having surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect and how to safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: March 20, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jeffrey J. Gilbertson, MD - Vascular Surgery
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