The Center for Aortic Aneurysm Surgery Patient Guide

The Center for
Aortic Aneurysm Surgery
Patient Guide
What is an
Aortic Aneurysm?
An aortic aneurysm is dilation, bulging or ballooning
of a weakened part of the wall of the aorta, the
main artery that carries blood away from the heart.
The normal pressure of blood from the pumping
heart causes the weakened portion of the aorta to
slowly stretch and bulge, leading to the formation
of an aneurysm. Aneurysms can stretch to the point
of rupture, which is life threatening and requires
immediate medical attention. The key to successful
treatment of an aneurysm is early diagnosis, careful
monitoring and referral for surgical consultation to
avoid rupture of the aneurysm. Fortunately, when
aortic aneurysms are diagnosed early before they
rupture, treatment is safe, effective and curable .
What is an
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is the most
common of the aortic aneurysms, affecting nearly
200,000 people in the United States annually. Up to
15,000 people per year die of a ruptured AAA. Once
rupture occurs, the chance of survival is less than 25
percent. It is estimated that more than one million
people are living with undiagnosed AAA, and at
least 95 percent of these can be successfully treated if
detected before a rupture. Most AAAs do not cause
any symptoms, however when present, pain in the
abdomen or back is most commonly present.
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What Causes an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?
Aortic aneurysms are most often caused by
atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries that damages
the artery’s walls. Over time, excess plaque causes the
aorta to stiffen and weaken. Risk factors for aortic
aneurysms include:
What are Some Symptoms of an
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?
Although you may initially not feel any symptoms with
AAA, if you develop symptoms, you may experience
one or more of the following:
If your aneurysm bursts, you may suddenly feel intense
weakness, dizziness, or pain, and you may eventually
lose consciousness. This is a life-threatening situation,
and you should seek medical attention immediately.
• Males 60 and older
• Smoking
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Overweight
• Family history of heart disease
• A pulsing feeling in your abdomen,
similar to a heartbeat
• Severe, sudden pain in your
abdomen or lower back. If this is the case, your aneurysm may be about to burst
• On rare occasions, your feet
may develop pain, discoloration, or
How is an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Diagnosed?
AAA can be detected by an abdominal ultrasound
that is painless, safe and accurate. Additional tests
such as a CT scan, MRI and/or angiography may
be recommended. The Center for Aortic Aneurysm
Surgery at Central Baptist Hospital recommends early
detection screening for those at risk for abdominal
aortic aneurysms. For more information about an early
detection program for abdominal aortic aneurysm, call
• Abdominal Ultrasound
• CT Scan
• Angiography
What is a
Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA)?
Thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA), while not as
common as AAA, affect approximately 15,000 people
each year. A TAA is an aneurysm that occurs in the
chest area and can involve different areas of the upper
aorta. Symptoms of TAA vary. Patients can experience
chest, abdominal or neck pain, or no pain at all. A
TAA may rupture causing a life-threatening situation
and the need for immediate medical attention. When
detected in time, TAA can often be repaired.
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What Causes a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?
In addition to the risk factors for an AAA, certain
diseases can also weaken the layers of the aortic wall
and increase the risk of TAA, including:
• Marfan syndrome, a genetic
connective tissue disorder
• Syphilis
• Tuberculosis
• Rarely, trauma, such as a fall or
rapid deceleration in a motor
vehicle accident
What are Some Symptoms of a
Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?
You may not feel any symptoms with TAA. Only half
of patients with TAA notice symptoms.
If you do have symptoms, they will depend on where
your aneurysm is located and how large it is. Possible
symptoms include:
If your aneurysm is large and in the section of the aorta
closest to the heart, it may affect your heart valves and
lead to a condition called congestive heart failure.
• Pain in the jaw, neck, and upper
• Chest or back pain • Coughing, hoarseness, or difficulty
How is a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Diagnosed?
A TAA is diagnosed by echocardiography, MRI, CT
scan and/or angiography. These exams and tests can
show the size of the aorta and the exact location of the
• Echo Cardiography
• MRI • CT Scan
• Angiography
When Treatment Becomes Necessary,
What are my Options?
The size of the aneurysm and the overall condition of the patient’s health will determine the need for
referral for a surgical evaluation and/or continued monitoring with further screenings.
Medical Management
Depending on the patient’s health and risk of the aneurysm rupturing, “watchful waiting” may be
recommended, with close monitoring of the aneurysm and aggressive management of risk factors,
such as high blood pressure.
Minimally Invasive Endovascular Aneurysm Repair
Endovascular repair is a newer, minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of AAA and TAA and
may be an option depending on the location, size and shape of the aneurysm. By making just a small
incision in the groin, the surgeon is able to insert a catheter and guide it to the aneurysm using a
state-of-the-art 3-D imaging system. An endovascular graft is placed at the site of the aneurysm and
creates a new route for blood flow, taking pressure off the aneurysm. The most significant advantage
of endovascular repair is that it is minimally invasive, allowing for a faster recovery. In addition,
patients who have endovascular repair experience less pain, spend only a few days in the hospital and
return to normal activity within 2 to 6 weeks after the procedure.
Open Surgical Repair
A vascular surgeon may recommend a surgical procedure known as open aneurysm repair to repair
an abdominal or thoracic aortic aneurysm. During this procedure, an incision in the chest (for TAA)
or abdomen (for AAA) is required. A synthetic graft is placed in the weakened portion of the aorta
which seals off the aneurysm. The graft is very strong and allows blood to pass through the aorta
without putting pressure on the aneurysm. Following surgery, the hospital stay is usually 5 to 7 days.
Depending on how quickly the body heals, it may take 2 to 3 months for a complete recovery.
Where do I go
For Treatment?
Three-year reaccreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers,
focused on improving care for patients with acute coronary syndromes and related maladies.
The Center for
Aortic Aneurysm Surgery
at Central Baptist Hospital
Performing more minimally invasive endovascular
aortic aneurysm repairs than any other hospital in
Kentucky, Central Baptist Hospital offers the region’s
first dedicated Center for Aortic Aneurysm Surgery.
Working in state-of-the-art facilities and using some
of the most sophisticated technology, our team of
surgeons, anesthesiologists, intensive care physicians
and nurses, are on the leading edge of diagnosis and
treatment. From preventative measures to advance
surgical and endovascular repair, we are helping to
revolutionize aortic aneurysm repair.
For more information regarding
aortic aneurysms, please call
The Center for Aortic Aneurysm Surgery
at Central Baptist Hospital
American College of Cardiology Foundation for commitment and
success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack
patients. CBH has reached an aggressive goal of treating coronary
artery disease patients.
A 100 percent success rate of providing intervention in less than
90 minutes to patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction
(STEMI), a condition in which a blocked artery could lead to
permanent heart damage.
Magnet status designation by the American Nurses Credentialing
Center. This national recognition denotes CBH as providing excellence in nursing services and practices.
Kentucky Hospital Association’s highest quality honor for leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment in patient
Glossary of
Medical Terms
The main artery that carries blood away from the heart
to the rest of the body.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)
A ballooning (enlarging and thinning) of the aorta
due to a weakening in the arterial wall that occurs in
the abdomen area. This term is often abbreviated as
A ballooning (enlarging and thinning) of a weakened
area of a blood vessel.
A method whereby dye is injected into the bloodstream
to view blood flow through the blood vessels under
X-ray. Uses contrast (dye) and small radiation exposure.
The resulting image is an angiogram.
Contrast (Dye)
A drug injected into the vascular system to show blood
flow through the blood vessel on the X-ray image.
CT Scan (Computed Tomography Scan)
An imaging technique that creates very precise, thin,
cross-sectional views of your abdomen and aorta. This
technique often uses contrast (dye) and small radiation
exposure. Also known as a CAT scan.
Endovascular Graft
A synthetic graft implanted within a diseased vessel
intended to relieve weakened vessel walls without the
use of open surgery techniques. An endovascular graft
is delivered to the diseased aorta at a small size and
then is expanded to the size of the vessel in which it is
Endovascular Repair
Considered to be less invasive than open surgery, it
involves the use of an endovascular graft to seal off an
aneurysm inside a diseased aorta, making a new path
for blood to flow.
Endovascular Treatment
The use of guidewires and X-rays taken during an
endovascular procedure to treat unhealthy arteries with
small incisions in the femoral arteries.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
A procedure using magnetic fields and radio waves to
form an image of structures inside the body.
The blocking of an artery, causing the stop of normal
blood flow.
A tear in the vessel wall near or at the location of the
ballooning (enlarging and thinning) of the weakened
area of the blood vessel, causing the patient to
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