Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Less Invasive Surgery Repairs Aortic Aneurysm

Benefits of Newer Technique May Outweigh Risks
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 14, 2009 - Less invasive endovascular repair of deadly aortic aneurysms is easier on patients and -- at least for two years -- carries no extra risk of death.

Aortic aneurysm -- dangerous ballooning of the body's central artery -- can be fatal if not detected and repaired. They're the 15th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Unfortunately, the operation to repair an aortic aneurysm is dangerous. Indeed, it's one of the surgical procedures that carries the highest death risk.

Open surgery is the standard method for repair. But in the last decade, doctors have developed techniques and tools that let them repair aortic aneurysms using minimally invasive techniques, requiring just small incisions in the groin.

Earlier studies suggested that while this endovascular repair technique avoided some of the complications of open surgery, patients were more likely to die or require a second surgery.

Now Frank A. Lederle, MD, of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, and colleagues, report early results from their long-term study comparing endovascular to open repair of aortic aneurysms.

The study included 881 veterans eligible for either type of procedure. Half received endovascular repair, and half received open surgery.

The good news: For at least two years, there were not significantly more deaths in the group that underwent the less invasive repair.

Compared to men who underwent open surgery, those who received endovascular repair:

  • Spent less time undergoing the procedure
  • Had far less blood loss and needed no blood transfusions
  • Needed less mechanical ventilation
  • Spent four fewer days in the hospital
  • Spent three fewer days in intensive care

There was a downside. The men who underwent endovascular repair were exposed to more radiation due to prolonged fluoroscopy, and they were exposed to much more contrast agent, which can harm the kidneys.

It's too soon to say the less invasive technique is better, though. Lederle warns that the full study will take another three years to complete. Without longer-term data, it's impossible to fully compare the two approaches.

Lederle and colleagues report their findings in the Oct. 14 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure