The aorta is a big, hardy blood vessel that carries more than a million gallons of blood from the heart to the chest, torso and legs over the course of a lifetime. For the most part, the aorta is more than adequate to its mighty task. But when the aorta is weakened by smoking or a genetic predisposition, it can become bloated or distended. This ballooning effect is an aneurysm. If it’s big enough, an aneurysm can burst or shred under pressure. That’s something we want to avoid.
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If you have an aneurysm that has reached a certain size, your doctor will recommend that it be repaired or replaced. Traditionally, we repaired and replaced aortic aneurysms through open surgery. We’d open the length of diseased blood vessel and replace it with a Dacron sleeve that was sewn to the healthy tissue at either end.
In my next blog post, find out about less invasive ways we are treating aortic aneurysms.