What Are Abdominal or Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms?
An aneurysm is a healthcare issue referring to the widening or bulging of an artery, while abdominal or thoracic refers to the region where the bulging occurs in the body. Surgery is performed for aneurysms to prevent them from actually bursting, which would allow arterial blood loss and can often lead to death. The widening or bulging could occur in the descending thoracic aorta, ascending aorta, or aortic arch. Healthcare professionals cite hardened arteries, motor accidents, high blood pressure, major falls, and Mafran Syndrome as leading causes of aortic aneurysms. However, even in the absence of the above conditions, aneurysms can and do occur. Many people have no symptoms until the aneurysm begins to leak, at which time surgery is necessary.
Aortic Aneurysm Surgery
A healthcare professional injects dye into the arteries and uses a special type of imaging technology to analyze the extent of the bulge. If the aneurysm of the ascending aorta is larger than five to six cms, then a fabric substitute is needed to hold the walls of the artery. This is major surgery and involves the use of a heart-lung machine. If the aortic arch is involved, a specialized technique called circulatory arrest is used, which requires that the patient be connected to life support machines to compensate for the loss of blood circulation. Aneurysms of the descending thoracic aorta involve two options: for aneurysms larger than six cms, a fabric substitute is used; for those less than six cms, stints are inserted through catheters in the groin area.
Post Surgical Care
Healthcare after surgery is vital to prevent serious complications relating to heart attack, bleeding, stroke, paralysis, graft infection, or kidney damage. Death soon after aortic aneurysm surgery occurs in 5 to 10% of the cases. Preventive healthcare measures require that patients refrain from smoking, control blood pressure and blood lipid levels, and exercise regularly.