Pain might mean gain for aneurysm repair

Surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm is harder on the body than an inside-the-aorta approach, but it's also more durable.

Imagine, for a minute, you have a circulation problem that needs fixing. Your doctor offers two choices. One is major surgery with at least a week-long hospital stay and at least two months of recovery. The other is a procedure done without surgery that will have you out of the hospital in a few days and back on your feet in a week or so. No contest, right?

Actually, the no-brainer answer isn't always the right one for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a potentially dangerous ballooning and weakening of the body's main artery. There is other information you would need to make a good decision. One important piece is how the two procedures stack up over the long haul. A graft in the aorta must be strong and secure, as well as pliant enough to flex with each heartbeat, or more than 30 million times a year. The evidence for that isn't yet complete, though it looks as though the surgical approach is more durable. Health, age, and anatomy also factor into the choice.

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