Your doctor looks at the images from your ultrasound to see if you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. If you do, your doctor may recommend one of these choices:

  • Watchful waiting. If your aneurysm is smaller than about 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter, your doctor may not think your aneurysm is serious enough to require surgery now. If this is the case, your doctor may monitor your condition using ultrasound exams or other imaging tests, usually every six to 12 months.
  • Open aneurysm repair. If your aneurysm is serious enough to require surgery, your doctor may recommend open aneurysm repair. In this procedure, your doctor opens your abdomen, removes the portion of your abdominal aorta that has the aneurysm and replaces it with a tubelike graft.
  • Endovascular stent graft. This procedure reinforces the weakened portion of the abdominal aorta with a graft similar to the type used in open aneurysm repair.

    In this less invasive procedure, doctors attach a synthetic graft to the end of a thin tube (catheter) that's inserted through an artery in your leg and threaded up into your aorta. The graft — a woven tube covered by a metal mesh support — is placed at the site of the aneurysm and fastened in place with small hooks or pins. The graft then supports the weakened portion of your aorta to prevent rupture.

    Recovery time for people who have endovascular surgery is generally shorter than for people who have open surgery. However, follow-up appointments are more frequent because endovascular grafts can leak. You'll need to have regular follow-up imaging scans to ensure the graft isn't leaking. Long-term survival rates are similar for both endovascular surgery and open surgery.

Aug. 12, 2015