Abdominal aneurysm surgery

For many patients, there is nothing scarier to hear come out of a doctor’s mouth than the word “aneurysm.” This is likely because we have been conditioned by television and the movies to think of aneurysms as scary medical conditions that can strike without warning, bursting and causing immediate death. But what if I were to tell you that television and the movies were partially right? Aneurysms often do not show signs and symptoms, and they can burst without warning. Aneurysms of the brain and the aorta can even be almost instantaneously deadly to sufferers. Brain aneurysms can cause bleeding in the brain, resulting in brain death, while aneurysms in the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body, can cause the body to bleed out internally, also resulting in instant or near instant death. Luckily, aneurysms – whether in the brain, in the aorta, or in another part of the body – can be detected. People with a history of aneurysm in the family or people over the age of 65 are recommended by medical professionals to get screenings for aneurysms.

So what is an aneurysm anyway, aside from a potentially deadly development within the human body? An aneurysm is actually not the catastrophic event itself, but the potential for a catastrophic event. It is only when an aneurysm bursts that a problem occurs. Many people live with aneurysms for their entire lives without the aneurysm ever giving them any problems. It is only after death that the aneurysm is detected. But what is an aneurysm anyway? An aneurysm is a weakened section of the walls of a major organ. One of the most common type of aneurysms is an aortic aneurysm. When an aortic aneurysm occurs, the walls of the aorta, the body’s largest blood vessel, are weakened and prone to breaking. If the aortic bursts, then blood can bleed into the body, causing massive trauma or even death. The most common types of aortic aneurysms occur in the upper chest (thoracic aortic aneurysms) and in the lower stomach (abdominal aneurysms.) If an aneurysm is present in the aorta, it may be irritated or weakened as blood continues to flow through the aorta. If it is weakened enough, it will burst.

Abdominal aneurysms are caused by several factors. One is hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) resulting from living an unhealthy lifestyle that includes factors like drinking, smoking and high blood pressure. Other times, no matter how healthy your life style, you may suffer from aneurysm due to congenital weakness of the artery walls, a dissection or tearing of the artery wall (which can happen during surgery or through massive strain) or trauma from an accident. (Usually motor vehicle accidents and other very serious accidents are the only accidents strong enough to cause abdominal aneurysm.)

Abdominal aneurysms can be treated with abdominal aneurysm surgery. First, a doctor must diagnose the aneurysm, which is generally done via an x-ray or CT scan. Most of the time, no real symptoms occur to alert the sufferer of the presence of an aneurysm, though sometimes if the aneurysm presses on or effects other organs he or she might feel symptoms due to that fact.

If your doctor feels that you are a candidate for surgery on your aneurysm, he or she will probably perform an open abdominal aneurysm surgery. This includes opening the abdomen (hence the surgery’s name) and replacing the part of the aorta where the aneurysm is located with an artificial graft. The artificial graft is generally made from a material that will not wear out, such as the substance Dacron. Doctors suture the graft in place permanently so that, hopefully, no further surgery will be needed to heal the aneurysm.

Last updated on Sep 29th, 2010 and filed under Cardiovascular Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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