Aortic Aneurysm Repair
What are the risks and potential complications of aortic aneurysm repair?
Any surgical procedure involves risks and potential complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during the procedure or throughout your recovery.
General risks of surgery
The general risks of surgical procedures include:
- Adverse reaction or problems related to anesthesia, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
- Bleeding, which can lead to shock or require blood transfusion
- Blood clots, in particular a deep vein thrombosis that develops in the leg or pelvis. A blood clot can travel to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
- Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood
Potential complications of aortic aneurysm repair
Complications of an aortic aneurysm repair can be serious. You can best reduce the risk of potential complications and help manage complications if any occur by following the treatment plan you and your surgeon design specifically for you. Potential complications include:
- Blockage of the graft
- Blood leaking from the graft
- Blood vessel damage
- Bowel damage if the surgery involves your abdomen
- Nerve damage
- Sexual problems if nerve injury affects nerves in your groin
- Spinal cord injury
Reducing your risk of complications
You can reduce the risk of certain complications by:
- Ensuring that all members of you care team are aware of any allergies you have
- Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery
- Informing your doctor or radiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
- Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness, swelling or drainage
- Taking your medications exactly as directed
How do I prepare for my aortic aneurysm repair?
You are a very important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can improve your outcome after the procedure. You can prepare yourself for an aortic aneurysm repair by:
- Answering all questions about your medical history and medications you take. This includes prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
- Getting pre-operative testing as directed. Testing varies depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Pre-operative testing may include a chest X-ray, electrocardiography (ECG), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
- If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about losing weight before the surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan.
- If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about how to control these conditions both before and after surgery. Good control can help decrease your risk of complications with aortic aneurysm repair.
- Not eating or drinking just prior to surgery as directed. Your doctor may cancel your surgery if you eat or drink too close to the start of the procedure due to a risk of complications. These include choking on stomach contents during deep anesthesia.
- Stop smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for a just few days can be helpful.
- Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. For an aortic aneurysm repair, this may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners. You may also be instructed to take a laxative to clean out your bowel the day before surgery.
Questions to ask your doctor
Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with questions before surgery. It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your pre-operative appointments. Questions can include:
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© Copyright 2012 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.