Aneurysm surgery, also called traditional open surgery, is a treatment for aortic aneurysms. An aortic aneurysm damages your aorta and causes life-threatening complications. The main purpose of open surgery is to prevent an aneurysm rupture or dissection. It can also repair damage after such an event happens.
A surgeon removes the damaged part of your aorta and replaces it with a synthetic fabric tube. This tube is called a graft. It functions as a new lining for your artery so blood can safely pass through.
A thoracic or vascular surgeon performs this procedure in a hospital surgical suite. This procedure is considered major surgery. Your surgeon needs to make a large incision in your chest or belly to access the aneurysm. The aneurysm might be located in your chest (thoracic aortic aneurysm) or a bit further down in your belly (abdominal aortic aneurysm).
Aneurysm surgery is often necessary to prevent serious complications or death. Like any major surgery, it carries risks. But the benefits usually outweigh the risks. Your provider will discuss your options with you and determine if you need surgery.
People who have a ruptured or dissected aortic aneurysm need this surgery. It’s an emergency surgery that can save your life. Other people might need this surgery if they have an aneurysm that’s at risk of rupturing but hasn’t yet. This risk increases if your aneurysm is getting bigger or causing symptoms.
Aneurysm surgery can save your life. It can prevent an aneurysm rupture or dissection. It can also be performed in an emergency to repair damage from an aneurysm rupture or dissection.
Open surgery is a good option for people who can’t have endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR). For example, the stent graft used in EVAR doesn’t always fit the shape of a person’s aorta. So, that person would need open surgery.
Aneurysm surgery is very serious if performed after an aneurysm rupture. The chance of survival after surgery for a ruptured aortic aneurysm is 50% to 70%. The greatest threat comes from complications of the rupture, including kidney failure. But with no treatment at all, the rupture will certainly be deadly. So, surgery offers the best chance of survival after a rupture.
The chance of survival is much better when you have surgery before a rupture. In that case, the chance of surviving aneurysm surgery is 95% to 98%.