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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

About Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It carries blood through the abdomen to the legs. When a weak area of the aorta in the abdomen begins to bulge or expand, it’s called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Aneurysms are a serious health risk because they can leak or rupture. A ruptured AAA can cause severe internal bleeding which can be fatal.
Thankfully, AAA is not a common occurrence, yet it’s by no means rare. Each year, physicians diagnose approximately 200,000 people with AAA, and since there are typically no symptoms – an estimated additional one million people go undiagnosed. AAA is the 17th leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 15,000+ deaths a year and is the third leading cause of sudden death in men over 60. When diagnosed early, though, AAA can be treated successfully. AAA is often diagnosed through ultrasound imaging. AAAs which measure 5cm or greater are recommended for elective surgical repair.

AAA Risk Factors

Are You or a Family Member at Risk?

Age – over 60
Gender – males are 5-10 times more likely than females to have AAA
Smokers/former smokers
High blood pressure
Chronic lung disease/COPD
High cholesterol
CABG patients
Family history of AAA disease

AAA Treatment, 3 Ways (AAA)

1. Conservative Management through Regular Ultrasounds or CT Scans – Small aneurysms (less than 5cm) can usually be “watched” or monitored for changes in size. However, an aneurysm will not go away by itself, and so it is important to follow up regularly with a vascular surgeon.

2. Endovascular Stent Graft – Today, about 80% of abdominal aneurysms can be repaired through via an endovascular stent graft which is less invasive than an open surgical repair. Typically, the patient’s hospital stay is only 1-2 days. Dr. Golan has performed hundreds of these procedures and is credentialed to use endografts from the top three manufacturers – Medtronic , Gore, and Cook.

3. Open Surgical Repair – Some aneurysms can only be repaired through an abdominal incision and placement of an aortic graft. Experience and skill matter particularly in these cases. Dr. Golan has performed over 500 “open” AAA repairs in his career. Few other surgeons in the Midwest can match this experience. These procedures are done by Dr. Golan at NorthShore University HealthSystem.