When an imaging test reveals a bulging, weakened spot in the aorta—your body’s largest artery—a doctor may repair the aneurysm to prevent a life-threatening rupture or dissection. Wherever possible, a UNC REX Healthcare vascular surgeon will use a minimally invasive procedure to speed your recovery.
Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR)
If you qualify for endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR)—a minimally invasive approach—a doctor makes a small incision near your groin and threads a tiny stent and graft into the aorta and up to the aneurysm. There, he or she attaches the graft to the weakened spot to reinforce the blood vessel wall.
To repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm, your doctor may use a new type of device—a fenestrated graft—that has holes to let blood continue flowing to your organs. This graft is custom-made for you. In Wake County, you’ll find this treatment option only through UNC REX Healthcare.
Open Aneurysm Repair
During traditional open aneurysm repair, a surgeon makes an incision in your chest or abdomen and replaces the weakened part of the blood vessel with a fabric graft.
If the aneurysm is at the aortic root—just above your heart’s aortic valve—a UNC REX Healthcare surgeon may be able to preserve the valve during an advanced procedure called valve sparing root replacement. This approach means you may not need to take blood-thinning medications long-term after surgery.
Preparing for Your Procedure
Visit your physician to make sure any medical problems other than the aneurysm are under control. Ask your doctor which medications you should take on the day of surgery, and tell your care team if you develop a cold, flu or other illness.
The day of your procedure, do not drink anything, including water, after midnight. Take any medications your doctor told you to take.
Depending on what type of aneurysm repair you received, you’ll probably stay in the hospital for one to five days after treatment. Follow your care team’s instructions on limiting physical activity after discharge, and ask your doctor about follow-up X-rays and appointments to check on your health.
Your physician may ask you to take aspirin or another blood thinner to prevent clots from forming in your arteries or stent. Don’t stop taking the medication before talking to your doctor.