OPEN AAA Repair
The traditional operation involves cutting open your abdomen to replace the aneurysm with an artificial piece of artery (a graft). This is a major operation and carries some risk. However, it is successful in most cases and the long term outlook is good. The graft usually works well for the rest of your life.
Complications: The risk of a major complication is about 5-6 % from an open operation.
As with any major operation there is a small risk of you having a medical complication such as:
If your risk of a major complication is higher than this, usually because you already have a serious medical problem, your surgeon will discuss this with you. It is important to remember that your surgeon will only recommend treatment for your aneurysm if he or she believes that the risk of the aneurysm bursting is higher than the threat posed by the operation. Your surgeon will be able to tell you the success rate for this operation in his/her unit.
- Heart attack.
- Kidney failure.
- Chest problem.
- Loss of circulation in the legs or bowel.
- Infection in the graft used to replace your aorta.
- Up to 1 in 10 men may have difficulty obtaining an erection following surgery due to injury to nerves which lie on the front of the aorta.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a recognised risk and most patients will have treatment during their stay in hospital to prevent this. If you do develop a DVT, then you may require extra treatment for this and this may prolong your stay in hospital.
If your recovery is straightforward, you will be in hospital between 7-10 days. It is not unusual for patients to spend one or two nights on the high dependency or intensive care unit. You will be allowed to eat and drink once you are fully awake following surgery. You may not feel like eating immediately, but usually you will be eating normally within 3 days of your operation.
Once you are well enough to return home, you will be discharged. At this stage, you may still need painkilling tablets. You may also notice that you tire easily. It is usual for it to take at least three months, and sometimes longer, to get back to your normal level of activity. During this phase of recovery, you should plan periods of rest into your day, gradually reducing them as you get stronger. The best way to recover is to gradually increase your level of physical activity over three months. You may resume normal sexual relations as soon as you as you feel comfortable.
Your wound should be dry and healed within 10 days. If you develop redness or swelling in the wound, you should see your doctor about this. You will be referred back to your surgeon if your doctor has any concerns.
Returning to work: There is no set time for returning to work but you may need to wait 6-12 weeks before you are able to work. You should ask your surgeon about this.
For more information read the attached PDF or go to the Circulation Foundation or NHS Choices