Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair

Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) result from the expansion of a weakened aorta like a balloon. An aneurysm seldom causes symptoms, but can be a deadly condition if it ruptures. Fortunately, aneurysms can be treated with a variety of procedures depending on their size, location and specific characteristics.

The University of Chicago Medicine offers a full range of procedures -- both minimally invasive and open repairs -- to treat aortic and peripheral vascular aneurysms. Our vascular surgeons carefully evaluate each patient to select the best approach. In many cases, our surgeons can offer minimally invasive procedures (endovascular) that provide several benefits over traditional, open surgery. Compared to open surgery, the advantages of minimally invasive aneurysm repair include a shorter hospital stay, less pain, a quicker recovery and minimal scarring.

While not every person is a candidate for minimally invasive abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, our surgeons are frequently able to offer it to people who have been turned down for minimally invasive repair at other hospitals. This is because University of Chicago vascular surgeons are highly trained in complex vascular procedures and have access to the latest devices and surgical instruments. Our vascular surgeons are core members of the University of Chicago Center for Aortic Diseases (UCCAD), a multidisciplinary group of experts that provide focused care for aortic disease.

Types of Aneurysm Repair

Open Repair
This is the standard approach to repairing aneurysms, and requires a long incision down the abdomen. The surgeon removes the weakened part of the aorta and sews an artificial tube-shaped artificial graft into place to enable proper blood flow. Depending upon the case, patients typically spend a few days in the hospital and fully recover within six weeks to three months.

open abdominal aortic aneurysm repair In open AAA repair, the surgeon accesses the aneurysm through a long abdominal incision and sews the artificial graft into place to maintain proper blood flow.

Endovascular Repair
Endovascular means the treatment is done from within the blood vessel. The physician uses a long, thin catheter that is inserted into a vessel in the groin, and then threaded up into the aorta. A small, flexible tube -- called a stent or endograft -- is guided through the catheter and inserted into the aorta to strengthen it. These procedures are performed in our state-of-the-art endovascular suite that is equipped with the latest imaging technology.

Endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair In an endovascular aneurysm repair, the artificial stent graft is inserted into an artery through a catheter and is then placed within the AAA to reinforce the vessel walls.

Because endovascular repair does not require large incisions, the hospital stay is only one to two days, recovery is much quicker than open repair and there are no large incisions. Patients who have endovascular aneurysm repair will need to make regular follow-up visits for CT imaging exams to make sure that the graft is working properly. While endovascular repair is a good option for many people, it is associated with a greater need for maintenance procedures than open aneurysm surgery.