AAA is often called a “silent killer” because there are usually no obvious symptoms of the disease. Three out of four aneurysms show no symptoms at the time they are diagnosed. When symptoms are present, they may include:
- abdominal pain (that may be constant or come and go)
- pain in the lower back that may radiate to the buttocks, groin or legs
- the feeling of a “heartbeat” or pulse in the abdomen
In some, but not all cases, AAA can be diagnosed by a physical examination in which the doctor feels the aneurysm as a soft mass in the abdomen (about the level of a belly button) that pulses with each heartbeat.
The most common test to diagnose AAA is ultrasound, a painless examination in which a device (a transducer) about the size of a computer mouse is passed over the abdomen. Sound waves are computerized to create “pictures” of the aorta and detect the presence of AAA. Other methods for determining the aneurysms’ size are CT scan (computerized tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and arteriogram (real time x-rays).
Interventional Repair – This minimally invasive technique, known as EndoVascular Aneurysm Repair or EVAR is performed by CiC physicians using imaging to guide the catheter and graft inside the patient’s artery, rather than making a large midline incision. For the procedure, an incision is made in the skin at the groin which allows the physicians to thread the collapsed graft into position. Under X-Ray visualization, the graft is then expanded inside the Aorta so that it can take over the blood flow and take pressure off the weakened portion of the Aortic wall. The EVAR method eliminates the need for a large abdominal incision.
The stent graft procedure is not for everyone, though. Your CiC physician will review your images to determine if you are a candidate for EVAR.
Endovascular repair is an effective treatment that can be performed safely, resulting in lower morbidity and lower mortality rates than those of reported for open surgical repair.
- No abdominal surgical incision
- No sutures, or sutures only at the groins
- Faster recovery, shorter time in the hospital
- Less pain
- Reduced complications (as compared to open surgery)