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Innovative Procedure Repairs Aorta Without Major Surgery

Individuals with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) - a potentially lethal condition that is the 13th leading cause of death in the United States - now have a minimally invasive treatment option at Southeast Hospital.

Since October 2000, the Southeast Heart Center and the physicians of Southeast Cardiac and Vascular Surgery have offered endovascular AAA repair.

Southeast is the first Hospital approved to offer the new FDA-approved technique to the region.

In October, 1984, the first open heart surgery in the region was performed at Southeast, said Administrator James W. Wente. Today, nearly 6,500 surgeries later, the Heart Center continues to be nationally recognized for heart and vascular care.

Watch a video on Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm.
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What is an aneurysm, and who is likely to develop AAA?

Said Wente, " Throughout its history, the Heart Center surgical team has led the way in bringing new developments in cardiac and vascular care to the region. Endovascular triple-A repair is one of those significant advances."

FDA-approved endovascular AAA repair has been available in the United States less than two years. It allows a surgeon to repair an aneurysm from inside the artery, avoiding a major abdominal incision. Treatment involves inserting a graft to take the place of the abdominal aorta. During an endovascular AAA repair, the stent graft is implanted in the abdominal aorta through small incisions in the groins. The stent graft is inserted through an opening in the femoral artery. After the procedure, blood passes through the stent graft, taking pressure off the weak aorta.

The abdominal aorta is the main artery supplying blood to the lower body. An aneurysm is an abnormal swelling of an artery. Most aneurysms are caused by hypertension. There are other factors, such as heredity, nicotine use and elevated cholesterol and lipids. Once an aneurysm develops, it continues to grow. The more it grows, the more risk there is for rupture.

There are significant benefits to patients with this new procedure. Because there is no abdominal incision, there's less pain. A patient generally is able to go home within two days. Traditional AAA repair surgery requires a hospitalization of at least a week and a recuperation of six to eight weeks. Patients undergoing endovascular AAA repair are usually back to normal activities in a month.