The George Washington University Hospital offer minimally invasive procedures for complex aortic aneurysms, dissections (tears) and ruptures.
Abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurysms occur when weakened areas of the aorta—the largest artery in the body—bulge or balloon. As the aneurysms grow, they become more likely to burst or tear, causing massive internal bleeding. Sometimes they go undetected, but some people may notice a pulsating feeling near the navel, tenderness or pain in the chest or abdomen or back pain.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the following may increase your risk for an aortic aneurysm:
- Gender: Men are more likely than women to have abdominal aortic aneurysms.
- Age: Abdominal aortic aneurysms are more likely to occur in people who are 65 or older.
- Smoking: Can damage and weaken the walls of the aorta.
- Family history: People who have family histories of aortic aneurysm are at higher risk of having one themselves, and are more likely to have one before age 65.
The treatment of an aneurysm is dependent on a number of factors, including the size of the aneurysm and the medical history of the patient. Physicians may recommend that smaller aneurysms be left alone and watched. However, when an aneurysm grows larger there is always a chance that it can rupture.
Previously, the treatment for such aneurysms was open surgery using large incisions, with longer hospital stays and recoveries. Now, interventional radiologists can perform a procedure called minimally invasive stent-graft repair. During this procedure, a catheter is threaded from the patient’s groin through the blood vessels up to the aorta. By watching on an X-ray screen, physicians are able to visualize the vessel anatomy and thread the stent-graft to the site of the aneurysm. When surgeons reach the correct location, they deploy a small synthetic graft within the aorta to divert the blood away from the weakened areas and restore normal blood flow. Patients typically stay in the hospital overnight and have a faster recovery than with open surgery.