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.
This procedure is done to:
If you are planning to have an aortic aneurysm repair, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor will likely do some or all of the following:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure
Leading up to your procedure:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
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.
This may be done as an open surgery or using an endovascular approach.
During an open surgery, 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 aneurysm will be opened and cleaned of any debris. The graft will be sewn into place to reconnect the 2 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.
For the endovascular repair, a small incision will be made in your leg. A sleeve will be inserted in this incision and into the aorta. It will be advanced to the aneurysm. The sleeve will take pressure off the wall and prevent it from expanding or leaking. The incision will then be closed.
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You will be brought to a recovery room after surgery. You will be monitored there for any negative effects from the surgery or anesthesia.
1 hour to a few hours
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. The incision will cause some pain after the surgery. Talk to your doctor about medications to help you manage the pain.
The usual length of stay is 4-7 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications occur.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Recovery takes about 6 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.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Heart Association
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
University of Ottawa Heart Institute
Aneurysm repair. The Texas Heart Institute website. Available at: http://www.texasheartinstitute.org/HIC/Topics/Proced/asurg.cfm. Updated July 2015. Accessed March 1, 2016.
Sidebotham D, McKee A, et al. Cardiothoracic Critical Care. 2007.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Michael Woods, MD