Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation angiography CT scan ultrasound Treatment questions for doctor specialist surgery Home Care BP checks diet Prevention diet Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

AAA Treatment

The treatment for an abdominal aortic aneurysm depends on the size and location of the aneurysm. An expanding or leaking abdominal aortic aneurysm requires emergency surgery to repair the aneurysm. This requires an incision in the chest or abdomen to insert a synthetic graft. Recovery may take 4 to 6 weeks.

A large, non-leaking aneurysm requires an elective procedure or surgery. The procedure involves placing a stent in the aorta, through a catheter that is inserted into an artery in the groin. Small aneurysms must be monitored on a regular basis: if they become too large, then they require treatment.

Treatment of a small, non-leaking abdominal aortic aneurysm may include:

The decision to treat an abdominal aortic aneurysm with surgery is based on the operative risk and the risk for aneurysm rupture. Risk for rupture is related to the size of the abdominal aortic aneurysm.

AAA SizeRisk for Rupture
< 4 cm0
4 - 5 cm0.5 - 5%
5 - 6 cm3 - 15%
6 - 7 cm10 - 20%
7 - 8 cm20 - 40%
> 8 cm30 - 50%

Other factors that increase the rupture risk for an abdominal aortic aneurysm include:

Treatment for a large, expanding, or ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm may include:
  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Cardiac monitoring
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Surgery to repair the abdominal aortic aneurysm:
    • Stenting for abdominal aortic aneurysm
    • Synthetic graft for abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Medications to control high blood pressure in abdominal aortic aneurysm:

AAA Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Is surgery an option for me?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • Will I need physical therapy?
  • Will I need occupational therapy?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for having this problem again?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

AAA Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat an abdominal aortic aneurysm:

AAA Surgery

Surgical treatment for an abdominal aortic aneurysm may include:

  • Abdominal aneurysms that are less than 1.5 inches wide often cause no symptoms and do not require treatment.
  • An aneurysm that is causing pain or one that is larger than 2 inches (5 cm) requires surgery to repair the aorta.

Surgical procedures used to treat an abdominal aortic aneurysm include:
  • Synthetic graft for abdominal aortic aneurysm
    • Replacement of the weakened portion of the aorta with man-made material.
  • Stenting for abdominal aortic aneurysm
    • A tube is inserted into the artery, which provides strength to the weakened wall.

Continue to AAA Home Care

Last Updated: Jan 27, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed AAA References
  1. Ailawadi G, Eliason JL, Upchurch GR Jr: Current concepts in the pathogenesis of abdominal aortic aneurysm. J Vasc Surg 2003 Sep; 38(3): 584-8. [12947280]
  2. Fleming C, Whitlock EP, Beil TL, Lederle FA. Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm: a best-evidence systematic review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2005 Feb 1;142(3):203-11. [15684209]
  3. Isselbacher EM. Thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysms. Circulation. 2005 Feb 15;111(6):816-28. [15710776]
  4. Lyon C, Clark DC. Diagnosis of acute abdominal pain in older patients. Am Fam Physician. 2006 Nov 1;74(9):1537-44. [17111893]
  5. Sakalihasan N, Limet R, Defawe OD. Abdominal aortic aneurysm. Lancet. 2005 Apr 30-May 6;365(9470):1577-89. [15866312]
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