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Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair - open


Open abdominal aortic aneurysm repair is surgery to fix a widened part (or aneurysm) in your aorta, the large artery that carries blood to your belly (abdomen), pelvis, and legs.

An aortic aneurysm is when part of this artery becomes too large or balloons outward.

Your surgeon opens up your belly and replaces the aortic aneurysm with a fabric material.

Alternative Names

AAA - open; Repair - aortic aneurysm - open


The surgery will take place in an operating room. You will be given general anesthesia (asleep and pain free).

  • In one approach, you will be lying on your back. The surgeon will make an incision (cut) in the middle of your belly, from just below the breastbone to below the navel. Sometimes the cut goes across the belly.
  • In another approach, you will be lying on your right side. The surgeon will make a 5- to 6-inch cut from to the left side of your belly, ending a little below your belly button.
  • After finding your aorta, your surgeon will place two clamps on it, one below the aneurysm and one above it.
  • The surgeon will cut the aneurysm open. The surgeon will attach a graft, a long tube of a man-made materials (either Dacron or polytetrafluoroethylene), to the sides of the aorta, connecting the parts above the aneurysm and below it. )
  • The surgeon will wrap the wall of the aneurysm around the graft. The clamps are removed to allow blood to flow. The surgeon then closes up the incision.

See also: Aortic aneurysm repair - endovascular


The risks for this surgery are higher if you have heart disease, lung disease, kidney failure, or other serious medical problems. Risks or problems or complications are also higher for older people.

Risks for any surgery are:

  • Reactions to medicines
  • Breathing problems
  • Blood clots in the legs that may travel to the lungs
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Infection, including in the lungs (pneumonia), urinary tract, and belly

Risks for this surgery are:

  • Damage to your intestines or other nearby organs
  • Wound infections
  • Wound breaks open
  • Bleeding before or after surgery
  • Poor blood supply to your legs, your kidneys, or other organs
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Damage to a nerve, causing pain or numbness in the leg

Review Date: 3/5/2009
Reviewed By: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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