It’s frightening but true: Approximately 80 percent of individuals who suffer a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) die before they can receive treatment. But, when AAAs are detected early (and they often are), repairing such a potentially life-threatening condition can be quite uncomplicated for patients.
The large blood vessel that supplies blood to the legs and abdomen is called the aorta. An AAA occurs when a section of the aorta balloons out.
AAAs typically take many years to expand and rarely cause symptoms AAAs are typically found incidentally during an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan performed for some unrelated reason. Occasionally, an aneurysm is fi rst suspected during a regular exam with your primary care physician.
During the exam, the doctor may notice a lump, a pulsation or rigidity in the abdomen and order an ultrasound of the abdomen to confi rm an AAA is present. If an AAA is detected, a CT scan will then help the physician determine the size of the aneurysm and the best treatment strategy.
To perform the procedure, cardiologist working in conjunction with a vascular surgeon, makes a small incision in the patient’s groin area and threads a catheter through the femoral artery and into the aorta to the site of the aneurysm. Attached to the catheter is an endograft, a fabric covered metal stent. Once the endograft reaches the aneurysm, the endograft is released to protect the aneurysm from rupture.