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Updated on March 25, 2022

Aortic Aneurysm

The aorta is the largest artery in the body and transports blood from the heart to the rest of the body.  In the thorax, it is called a thoracic aorta and in the abdomen, it is called a abdominal aorta where it finally divides into 2 iliac arteries which then supply the right and left leg respectively. 

The aorta has thick muscle walls which can withstand high blood pressure and has a diameter of around 2 cm.  However, if the aorta weakens, the wall can bulge outwards like a balloon.  This is called an aneurysm and has a risk of rupturing causing sudden death due to catastrophic bleeding. 

Image MedlinePlus

Risk Factors for Aortic Aneurysm

Click to view Medical Centric video on Aneurysm

Treatment

Treatment is advisable if you have symptoms of chest or back pain.  Surgery is required to prevent the aneurysm from growing bigger or rupture because of the weakened wall. 

1. Open Aneurysm Repair

A large aneurysm or leaking aneurysm will need to be cut open and a synthetic stent graft sutured to replace it.  The surgeon will need to make a large incision in your thorax or abdomen to get access to the aorta to perform this surgery. 

Image Uptodate

2. Endo Vascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR)

A stent graft which is made of synthetic fabric is introduced into the aorta via an incision made at the iliac artery.  The graft is attached to normal artery walls above and below the aneurysm so the the blood flow through this graft and avoid the aneurysm.  This prevents the blood from applying any more pressure to the weakened walls of the aneurysm.  EVAR is a less invasive procedure compared to the open method and most patients can resume their normal activities within 2-3 weeks.

Click to view EVAR UHN video on EVAR

Suitability for EVAR Treatment

  • Aneurysm which has not ruptured
  • Aorta has long enough length of normal artery to secure the stent graft

Post Treatment Care

Follow up Recommendation

All patients should see their vascular surgeon for life-long regular follow-up to monitor the integrity and blood flow of the graft.  You will also need regular ultrasound or CT scans during your follow-up visits.

See a Vascular Surgeon to discuss your treatment options


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