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What Happens During An Aneurysmectomy

written by: Lashan Clarke • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 10/27/2009

Find out what happens during an aneurysmectomy, and why the procedure may have been ordered by your doctor.

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    How An Aneurysm Forms

    An aneurysmectomy is a procedure to remove an aneurysm form the body. If left untreated, an aneurysm can result in serious medical complications, and even death. This is commonly associated with heart disease.

    An aneurysm forms when the muscular wall of a blood vessel such as an artery starts to weaken and widen. In some instances, the chambers of the heart can also form an aneurysm as they enlarge. The swelling or enlargement of the vessel can vary in size, depending on when it is first detected. However, the problem with an aneurysm, the body has to increase the pressure in which it pumps blood through the aneurysm and around the body. As the aneurysm continues to balloon and the blood pressure builds, the artery can rupture, causing a massive hemorrhage. The most common places that an aneurysm forms are inside the descending aorta and in the cerebral blood vessels. This condition is most common in males over the ages of 65 years of age, but can occur in anyone at any age. In the removal of an aneurysm, the surgeon has two different ways in which to repair it. Depending on its location, a graft can be used in aortic aneurysms, or it can be snipped out in cerebral aneurysms.

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    Why An Aneurysmectomy?

    Quite recently, many physicians have opted for not using surgical procedures but instead opting to use a graft with a stent placed inside of it. However, the procedure for a removal of an aneurysm in aneurysmectomy will not only depend on the location of the aneurysm but also if there are any underlying medical conditions present at the time. This is due to the fact that blood flow needs to be constant to vital organs such as the brain and heart.

    For abdominal aneurysms, if the aneurysm is located in the lower part of the abdomen, there is less risk to any vital organs and the surgeon will just snip out the aneurysm and can put a graft in its place. The blood flow must be clamped during this process. If the aneurysm is in the chest, blood flow is maintained using a cardiopulmonary bypass machine. The chest is split open, and the part of the artery that is affected is removed.

    If the physician opts to use a stent, then a small incision is made into the leg, and a catheter with a stent-graft inside is placed into the femoral artery. The stent-graft is a tube with a coiled mechanism inside of it. The stent-graft is threaded up to the aneurysm, and when expanded it strengthens the wall and blood flows through it. Therefore, the risk of hemorrhage is reduced by using this method.

    References

    Web Source: Greenwich Hospital, Yale & New Haven Health. "Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair" 2007. Available: http://www.greenhosp.org/healthlibrary/index.asp?pageid=P08291.