Our team of Vascular experts can diagnosis and treat Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms. Our fellowship trained interventional radiologists have special training in vascular procedures allowing them to successfully treat these kinds of cases.
The aorta is the largest artery in the body, arising from the left ventricle of the heart and extending down the abdomen where it branches off into two smaller arteries that supply the pelvis and legs. Aortic aneurysms occur when the wall of the aorta is weakened, causing it to become abnormally large or balloon outward. The main concern is a potentially fatal rupture that can occur as the aneurysm grows over time. Treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysms is recommended when the risk of rupture outweighs the risk of repair. This occurs when the aneurysm measures 5.0 cm or greater. Repair is also recommended for rapidly enlarging aneurysms, defined as growth greater than 1.0 cm over the course of one year.
AAA can be diagnosed on physical exam or by imaging. During a physical exam, your physician may examine your abdomen and feel a soft pulsating mass. Patients may have complaints of abdominal or back pain, but aneurysms can develop over many years with no symptoms. The most common AAA diagnostic imaging test is an Ultrasound. An ultrasound uses sound waves to visualize the size of the aorta. AAA can also be diagnosed by other imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs.
Traditionally, surgery was the only way to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Under anesthesia, a large surgical incision was made in the abdomen and the abnormal vessel was replaced with a synthetic tube or graft.
Over the past 20 years, Interventional Radiologists have invented and pioneered a minimally invasive alternative to surgery known as endovascular aortic repair (EVAR). Through small punctures in the groin arteries, an Interventional Radiologist will use small plastic tubes called catheters and special wires to navigate through the inside of the arterial network and into the abdominal aorta. From the inside of the artery and under the guidance of x-rays, a special conduit called a stent graft is placed. The stent graft bypasses and depressurizes the aneurysm, thus eliminating the risk of rupture. Compared to open surgical repair, patients that undergo EVAR experience significantly less surgical complications, have significantly less post-operative pain, and undergo a significantly shorter hospital stay. In most cases, the aneurysm is treated with groin incisions that are less than 1 cm length, and patients are ambulating and home the day following the procedure.
Survivor Story: Joyce Isom
We can go on and on about the importance of mammograms until we're blue in the face. But sometimes it takes hearing about a person's real life experience to really drive our message home.