Surgical Aneurysm Repair
Life-saving surgery that can prevent an aneurysm from bursting
An aneurysm is an area of an artery wall that has become weak and may have begun to swell or enlarge. In some cases, high blood pressure and other factors may cause the aneurysm to burst. Aneurysms can occur anywhere in the body, but are particular dangerous in arteries that lead to the heart and brain, as they may cause a heart attack or stroke. Depending upon the size and location of the aneurysm, surgical aneurysm repair offers an appropriate solution to help strengthen the artery and prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.
As with any surgery, there are certain risks associated with this procedure that you should discuss with your Hurley cardiologist and vascular surgeon beforehand. Your physician will also provide you with specific instructions to help you prepare for surgery and post-surgery recovery.
Before the procedure:
Except in urgent cases, the surgery will be schedule for a time that is convenient for you. Be sure to tell your Hurley surgeon about any medications you are taking and if you have allergies to particular types of medication. These include both over-the-counter medications available at your local pharmacy or store, such as aspirin, as well as prescription medications. If you smoke, you should stop smoking at least two weeks before the surgery. As the surgery approaches, be sure to tell your physician if you have any symptoms of a cold or flu, such as runny nose, fever and chills, or have an infection. Your surgery may need to be rescheduled until you are well enough to proceed.
Have nothing to eat or drink except a small sip of water with medications for 12 hours before your procedure. Take a shower the night before or the morning of the procedure, using antibacterial soap. Plan to be at Hurley Medical Center for approximately five to seven days. Arrange for someone to take you to and from Hurley Medical Center.
During the procedure:
Once you arrive at Hurley Medical Center (usually the day before surgery or the morning of the surgery), you will be admitted to the hospital. A series of tests, including electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), blood tests and urine tests, among others, will be given in order to assess your readiness for the surgery. The area of the surgery will be washed, scrubbed and, if necessary, shaved.
Small electrodes will be attached to your chest, which are attached to a device that will monitor your heart rhythm and electrical activity. A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area where an IV will inserted into a vein. The IV will deliver anesthesia before and during the operation. After you are asleep, a tube will be inserted down your windpipe and connected to a respirator machine, which will help you breathe
After you are completely asleep, a tube will be inserted down your windpipe and connected to a machine called a respirator, which will help you breath during the surgery. Another tube will be inserted through your nose and throat and into your stomach, which will stop liquid and air from collecting in your stomach. A catheter (a thin tube) will also be inserted into your bladder through your urethra to collect urine.
The cardiovascular surgeon will make an incision in the abdomen or the chest, depending on the location of the aneurysm. Clamps will be placed on the artery above and below the aneurysm to stop blood flow to that part of the aorta (blood will get to your heart and brain through other blood vessels).
In some cases, the aneurysm will be completely removed and replaced with a tube called a graft. In other cases, the graft will be inserted within the aneurysm. Once the graft is fully attached in the artery, the clamps will be removed so that blood can flow normally through the artery.
The surgery typically takes between two and four hours. You will the be moved to the Intensive Care Unit for one or two days to ensure that you are in stable condition, after which you will be move to a regular room for four to six days before being discharged.
You will be given diuretics to help prevent fluid buildup and blood. You will probably be required to take aspirin for several weeks following the surgery, in order to prevent blood clots. You will be asked to come to follow-up appointments after being discharged, to ensure that you are recovering appropriately from the surgery. You will not be allowed to return to work until approximately four to six weeks after the operation, depending upon the type of job you have.
Your Hurley physician will also give you information on lifestyle changes, such as improved diet, increased exercise and stress management techniques, that can help you lower your chance of future cardiovascular problems.