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Ruptured Aortic Aneurysms -- Two Methods to Repair

Newer, Less Invasive Technique Becoming More Popular

By Nancy Larson

Updated December 12, 2008

(LifeWire) - A burst aortic aneurysm is a rupture of part of the large artery that runs from the heart to the lower body. Massive internal bleeding begins that must be stopped before the patient dies.

Currently two methods can treat and repair ruptured aortic aneurysms: the open method or the endovascular method.

The open method is usually chosen for repairs and it involves:

  • Making an incision from breastbone to pubic bone
  • Clamping shut the aorta
  • Cutting open the aneurysm
  • Sewing a plastic graft in place to repair and strengthen the aortic wall

Recovery may take up to 3 months.

The endovascular method is becoming more popular. An article in the Journal of Vascular Surgery concluded that the procedure results in fewer fatalities.

The endovascular method of surgery is much less invasive due to:

  • The small incision that is made in the groin
  • The hollow tube that is threaded through an artery to the aneurysm
  • The metal device (a stent) that travels through the tube to the aneurysm
  • The stent that is opened to form new support for the aortic walls

Advantages of the endovacular method: Recovery time is much shorter; patients go home 2 to 3 days after surgery. Aortic clamping, which puts severe stress on the heart, is avoided. Older people and those with advanced heart disease do better with this method.

Disadvantages of the endovacular method: This type of surgery requires frequent postoperative check-ups and follow-up procedures may be needed. This method is not an option for all patients; for example, the open method is preferred for large aneurysms.

Unfortunately, most patients whose aortic aneurysms burst do not survive, no matter which surgery is attempted. Smokers are four times more likely than nonsmokers to die.

Read here about preventing aortic aneurysms.


"Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms." sirweb.org. 2008. Society of Interventional Radiology. 25 Nov. 2008 <http://www.sirweb.org/patients/abdominal-aortic-aneurysms/>. 

"Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm." vascularweb.org. 11 Dec. 2007. Society for Vascular Surgery. 25 Nov. 2008 <http://www.vascularweb.org/patients/NorthPoint/Abdominal_Aortic_Aneurysm.html>. 

Aortic Aneurysms." sts.org. 2007. Society of Thoracic Surgeons. 25 Nov. 2008 <http://www.sts.org/sections/patientinformation/aneurysmsurgery/aorticaneurysms/>.

Upchurch, Gilbert, et al. "Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm." American Family Physician (2006) 2 Dec. 2008 <http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060401/1198.html>.

Xenos, Eleftherios, Nicholas N. Abedi, Daniel L. Davenport, David J. Minion, Omar Hamdallah, Ehab E. Sorial, and Eric D. Endean. "Meta-Analysis of Endovascular Vs Open Repair for Traumatic Descending Thoracic Aortic Rupture." Journal of Vascular Surgery 48:5(2009):1343-51. 2 Dec. 2008 <http://www.jvascsurg.org/article/S0741-5214(08)00703-9/abstract>. (subscription)

LifeWire, a part of The New York Times Company, provides original and syndicated online lifestyle content. Nancy Larson is a St. Louis-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in dozens of local and national print and online publications including CNN.com, The Weather Channel, Health magazine and The Advocate.

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