AAA Surgery

What is AAA?

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

The abdominal aorta → is the major artery that supplies blood to your organs, legs, and other vessels. An aneurysm happens when the artery becomes enlarged due to a weakening within the wall of the blood vessel. When this happens, it can continue to enlarge and then eventually rupture if left untreated.

who is the best vascular surgeon in nashville for aaa surgery
risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm

Who is at risk for AAA?

Risk factors →  include smoking, diabetes, family history, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and stress. Not everyone shows symptoms, but some complain of back pain, abdominal or side pain, or pulsating (heartbeat) in the abdominal area.

If you have a strong family history of an AAA, please discuss with your Primary Care Physician if they think a screening is necessary.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Vascular Surgery: Aortic Aneurysms

Aneurysms are asymptomatic conditions that can lead to severe and life-threatening problems. Thankfully, there is treatment available and our expert vascular surgeons know how to identify your risks and symptoms. To learn more about this condition and how it can be treated, watch the following video from Dr. Adam A. Richter, MD, FACS, RPVI.

Surgery for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
During surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), the weakened aortic wall is replaced with a hollow man made tube (graft).

Reaching the aneurysm

The aorta can be reached through open surgery . Or a less invasive endovascular procedure may be done. Your surgeon will choose the best approach for you.

Open surgery

An incision is made in your abdomen. Once inside, your surgeon gently moves aside your organs to reach the damaged section of the aorta.

Endovascular procedure

Near your groin, the surgeon makes 2 small cuts (incisions). Then he or she threads a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into the artery at the incision. The surgeon places a graft inside the catheter and guides it toward the damaged part of the aorta.

Placing the graft

The goal is to safely route blood past the aneurysm.

During open surgery

Here is what to expect:

  • The aneurysm is opened and cleaned of any blood clots.
  • The graft is sewn to the aorta.
  • The wall of the aorta is wrapped around the graft to protect it. The wall is then sewn up.
  • The incision site is closed with stitches or staples.
Open surgery to place graft for abdominal aortic aneurysm.
During open surgery, a graft replaces the weakened section of aortic wall. The wall is wrapped around the graft.

During an endovascular procedure

Here is what to expect:

  • Watching the catheter on a video monitor, the surgeon places a catheter in the best position. This position is confirmed by a dye study (angiogram).
  • The surgeon guides the graft through the catheter and expands it so blood can flow through it.
  • The blood is now re-routed through the graft and does not fill the aneurysm anymore.
  • The graft is attached inside the artery. It’s held in place with metal springs (stents), hooks, or pins.
  • The catheter is removed. The incision sites are closed with stitches or staples.
Endovascular procedure to place graft for abdominal aortic aneurysm.
During an endovascular procedure, a graft is inserted inside the aortic wall. The graft is then secured to the aorta above and below the aneurysm.

Risks and possible complications

Here are potential problems to be aware of:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots in legs
  • Bleeding
  • Kidney failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Injury to the colon’s blood supply
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Heart attack, stroke, or death
After AAA Surgery
After Open Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Surgery

You have had surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). This happens when the main blood vessel in your abdominal area weakens and expands like a balloon. Your healthcare provider placed a graft to replace the part of your aorta that was weak. Here’s what you need to know following surgery.

Home care

Recommendations for taking care of yourself at home include the following:

  • Don’t do strenuous activity for 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery.
  • Ask your healthcare provider how long it will be before you can return to work.
  • Gradually increase your activity. It may take some time for you to return to your normal activity level.
  • Don’t drive for 2 weeks after surgery or while you are taking opioid pain medicine. Ask someone to take you to any appointments.
  • Check your incision every day for signs of infection. These include swelling, redness, drainage, and warmth.
  • Keep your incision clean. Wash it gently with soap and water when you shower.
  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 5 pounds for 2 weeks after surgery.
  • Don’t sit or stand for long periods without moving your legs and feet.
  • Keep your feet up when you sit in a chair.
  • Take your medicines exactly as directed.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Redness, pain, swelling, or drainage from your incision
  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
  • Sudden coldness, pain, or paleness in your leg
  • Loss of feeling in your legs
  • Severe or sudden pain in your stomach
  • Fail to pass gas
  • Bloody bowel movements
  • Prolonged constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or heaviness in your chest or arms

Still have questions?

Reach out to us to set up an appointment. The Surgical Clinic has locations all throughout Tennessee, including areas such as Nashville, Lebanon, Columbia, and much more. We can address all of your vascular surgery needs, and answer any questions you might have regarding procedures.

What is AAA?

Understanding abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)

Vascular surgeon, Dr. Adam Richter, MD, RPVI, explains what an abdominal aortic aneurysm is and how it can cause specific problems. For instance, if the AAA gets bigger, like a balloon, they can burst (AKA rupture). This can cause excessive bleeding that becomes a medical emergency.

Find a Vascular Surgeon

If you’re looking for an abdominal aortic aneurysm doctor near you (in Nashville or Middle Tennessee). Schedule a consultation at The Surgical Clinic to meet with one of our board-certified vascular surgeons who provide Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)  surgery.

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