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The Ins and Outs of Endovascular Surgery

Endovascular surgery is a minimally invasive procedure to treat concerns involving the veins and circulatory system, including an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
About 200,000 patients are diagnosed with abdominal aortic aneurysm each year, and about 32,000 aneurysms are repaired annually; however, many of us aren’t too familiar with this type of surgery or health concern. Here to talk more about endovascular surgery and abdominal aortic aneurysms is Dr. Eugene Simoni of Penn State Hershey Medical Group. 

Again, endovascular surgery is a less invasive procedure used to treat problems affecting veins and the circulatory system, such as an abdominal aortic aneurysm. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged area in the lower part of the aorta, which is the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body. Although aneurysms can involve other arteries, most aneurysms occur in your aorta. The aorta runs from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen. Since it is the body’s main supplier of blood, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding.

Depending on the size and rate at which your abdominal aortic aneurysm is growing, treatment may vary. Your physician may watch to see if the aneurysm grows, or they may have to perform emergency surgery if the aneurysm ruptures.

Endovascular surgery is an option to treat the abdominal aortic aneurysm in a minimally invasive manner.

During endovascular surgery, the weakened aortic wall is replaced with a hollow manmade tube. We do this by making two small incisions near the groin. A catheter – a thin flexible tube – is threaded into the artery at the incision. Then, a graft is placed inside the catheter and guided toward the damaged part of the aorta.

Another type of procedure that can treat aneurysms and other problems affecting the blood vessels and veins is called open surgery – which is more invasive than endovascular surgery. Open surgery involves an incision in the side of the chest or breastbone.

Today, about 85-90 percent of all abdominal aortic aneurysms can be treated through endovascular surgery. Your physician will determine the best way to treat your aneurysm due to the size, location or severity of the aneurysm and whether or not the aneurysm has ruptured.

The recovery time of endovascular surgery is much quicker than open surgery. For endovascular surgery, local sedation is given to patients, and they are in the hospital about 48 hours after the procedure to recover. Endovascular surgery is generally less painful, has smaller incisions and has a lower risk of complications. Open surgery involves general anesthesia. Patients typically stay in the hospital for 10 days following open surgery and undergo a three-month recovery.

Unfortunately, most people with abdominal aortic aneurysms do not experience symptoms until their aneurysm ruptures; however, many aneurysms are discovered by accident while the patient is being evaluated with a CT or MRI scan for another medical problem.

If an aneurysm ruptures, the person will experience stabbing low back pain.

For community members who experience an abdominal aortic aneurysm, Mount Nittany Medical Center offers vascular and endovascular surgery through its new, special procedures room. At Mount Nittany Medical Center, vascular surgeons work closely with cardiologists, wound care physicians and other specialists to provide the best treatment for those conditions that affect the circulation of blood. For more information about abdominal aortic aneurysms and endovascular surgery, visit their website.


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