Magazine article USA TODAY

New Treatment Patches Abdominal Aneurysms

Magazine article USA TODAY

New Treatment Patches Abdominal Aneurysms

Article excerpt

Surgeons at Saint Louis (Mo.) University School of Medicine are providing the first new treatment options for abdominal aortic aneurysms in 40 years. The minimally invasive method to repair damaged arteries provides an alternative to the more taxing "open" abdominal surgery. Research has shown that the AneuRx Stent Graft is not only as effective, but can cut major complications associated with surgery by half.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery, which is almost always caused by cellular changes due to arteriosclerosis--the buildup of plaque on the inside of the artery that damages and weakens it. The pressure of the blood flowing through the weakened section of the artery causes the artery to balloon, forming the aneurysm. If the aneurysm is not caught early enough, the weakened aorta can rupture, often resulting in death.

Aneurysms vary in size. For those smaller than five centimeters, the preferred course of action tends to be close monitoring. When an aneurysm changes size significantly or is diagnosed at a size greater than five cm (2.5 times the healthy vessel's normal size), it has an increased chance of rupturing.

The standard treatment has been open surgical repair, requiring an average hospital stay of seven to 12 days and a recuperative period that can last as long as six months. During this procedure, an abdominal incision is made and the aorta is clamped above and below the aneurysm. The aorta is then opened, a surgical graft sewn in at the diseased site, and the aorta closed over it. …

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