Surgery is the recommended treatment for addressing a bulge or aneurysm in the thoracic aorta, the section of the aorta that runs through the chest. The aorta is the large artery responsible for distributing blood from the heart throughout the body. It begins at the heart, traverses the chest and abdomen, and terminates at the pelvis.
Aneurysm can develop when a weak spot forms in one of the arteries. This weakness can lead to the artery enlarging or ballooning. It’s worth noting that thoracic aortic aneurysms are quite rare, affecting fewer than 1 in 10,000 individuals.
A thoracic aortic aneurysm can be treated with one of two methods:
Not every patient with a thoracic aortic aneurysm requires surgery. The size of the aneurysm, your symptoms, and your general health will all determine whether you require surgical treatment.
In order to minimize the risk of a ruptured aneurysm, your doctor may recommend thoracic aortic aneurysm surgery. It’s important to note that not all thoracic aortic aneurysms rupture, but when they do, they can be life-threatening.
Thoracic aortic aneurysm surgery significantly reduces the likelihood of a potentially deadly aneurysm rupture. When the risks associated with a rupture outweigh the risks of surgery, your doctor typically recommends undergoing the surgical procedure.
While it is a complex and serious surgical intervention, addressing a thoracic aortic aneurysm can potentially save a person’s life. Possible complications and concerns that may arise during the procedure include:
To determine the necessity of surgery for a thoracic aortic aneurysm, your doctor will rely on imaging studies. CT scans are commonly employed to monitor the aneurysm’s size. If the aneurysm measures greater than 5.5 centimeters or has increased by more than 0.5 cm within the past six months, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery.
Your doctor will provide you with instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. A few days before the surgery, they may prescribe medications that can relax your blood vessels or lower your blood pressure. You may also be required to discontinue the use of blood thinners, also known as anticoagulants, for a period prior to the procedure.
During the open repair of a thoracic aortic aneurysm, your surgeon:
The doctor will perform the following during TEVAR:
Following open surgery, you will be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) for immediate recovery. After a day or two, you will be transferred to another section of the hospital, where you may stay for up to ten days.
In the case of TEVAR surgery, patients typically spend about three days in the hospital. Some mild soreness and bruising may occur. If needed, your healthcare provider will prescribe medication to assist you in managing any pain.
Most patients can resume their regular routines within two to three months after thoracic aortic aneurysm surgery. However, after open surgery, it is advisable to limit physical activities for approximately four to six weeks. With TEVAR, you can typically return to your usual activities in a few weeks, although you should still avoid strenuous physical activities for about four weeks.
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