Endovascular Repair of Abdominal Aortic AneurysmsEndovascular surgery repairs a weakened section of the aorta to prevent it from rupturing. Endovascular repair is a minimally invasive procedure that can prevent an abdominal aortic aneurysm from rupturing. Also referred to as abdominal endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR), this surgery is performed to fortify a weakened portion of the aorta where it runs through the abdomen. If an aneurysm is left unaddressed, the aorta can tear and cause internal bleeding that is usually fatal.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) describes a swelling, ballooning or dilation of the aorta in the abdomen that weakens a segment of the artery’s wall. The aorta is the largest artery in the body, running from the heart to the lower abdomen where it splits into the iliac arteries.
Factors such as smoking and having high blood pressure or cholesterol are known to increase the risk of an AAA, although the cause of this condition is sometimes unclear. Possible symptoms of a large AAA include:
- Abdominal pain
- Back or flank pain
- A pulsating sensation near the navel area
Abdominal endovascular aneurysm repair is usually performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. The procedure involves:
- Making a small incision in the groin area above an iliac artery
- Inserting a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into the artery and carefully feeding it up to the site of the aneurysm (this process is facilitated by detailed moving X-ray imaging)
- Sending a small tube composed of thin, fabric-covered metal mesh (stent) up the catheter, which is open and secured at the site of the aneurysm to bolster the weakened area of the aortic wall
- Gently removing the catheter from the artery and closing the incision
What to Expect
Endovascular repair surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that has fewer possible complications and a shorter recovery period than open aortic repair surgery. Most patients remain in the hospital for a day or two following surgery for observation.
It’s important to note that all medical procedures—including minimally invasive treatments—come with some measure of risk. Possible complications of abdominal endovascular repair surgery include:
- Heart attack
- Stent failure
- Heavy bleeding at the incision site
Around 11,000 people die from abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture each year in the United States. When AAA is identified and treated in a timely manner—whether through endovascular repair or another method—a life can be saved.
Tampa General Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute features nationally recognized, board-certified vascular surgeons who excel in repairing abdominal aortic aneurysms through endovascular and open methods.