Vascular Surgery: Aneurysm Repair Techniques

The human body is a network of veins, arteries, and capillaries moving blood to and from the heart. The blood transports oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. It also brings back carbon dioxide given off by the body’s cells back to the lungs in order for it to be expelled.

Over time, these pathways become damaged either by weakening, which allows bleeding within the body, or thickening, which causes clots. In some cases, the vessels can create a balloon-like bulge filled with blood, known as an aneurysm. In most cases, vascular surgery can correct the problem.

Unless treated, an aneurysm can rupture. This rupturing of the artery leads to bleeding and subsequently to hypovolemic shock. This can cause death. In some cases, aneurysms can also form a clot, restricting flow of blood to the area.

Vascular Surgery Procedure

When having vascular surgery to repair this defect, your doctor will give you an anesthetic to eliminate your pain during the procedure. While you are unconscious, he or she will then make an incision in the area where the arterial weakness is located.

Once the site is exposed, your physician will clamp the artery above the aneurysm. This stops blood from entering the area. The next step is to open the actual sack and remove any clotted blood or plaque deposits that could be attributing to the buildup.

If possible, your doctor will remove the damaged portion of the artery. If the area is small, he or she may replace it with a vein from your leg. However, if the artery is much larger, for example, your aorta, then a synthetic graft will replace the damaged area.

In other cases, your doctor may not remove the aneurysm. Instead, he or she will insert a graft that will decrease the overall size of the arterial wall while giving it added support. Adding the graft occurs after the removal of any clots or plaque.

There are some areas where your surgeon cannot operate directly on the aneurysm – the head, for example. In this instance, he or she will insert clips or small clamps to prevent blood from entering the area. This helps to relieve the pressure. If the bulge is in an inoperable location, your doctor can still try to fill it with tiny metal or plastic coils. To do this, a long, thin tube called a catheter threads through your vessels to the aneurysm site. The catheter deposits the coils to block blood flow and relieve the pressure.

After Vascular Surgery

You will spend several days in the hospital after your procedure. Depending on the location and your overall health, you can expect to be there anywhere from a week to 10 days. In some instances, you may be in the intensive care unit part of this time.

In addition to hospital recovery, when released you will have instructions to follow. You should follow them completely to ensure that your incision heals adequately.

You will also need to follow up with your doctor. During the follow-up, your physician will check to ensure any grafts, clips, coils, or patches are functioning properly and that the aneurysm is not redeveloping.

When To Call The Doctor For Common Ailments

Many question whether or not to bother their family medicine practitioner when it comes to common issues like headaches, fever and similar. Sadly, most don’t want to be a bother or seem like they are calling for every little thing but it’s important to realize that anyone practicing family medicine is there for them and their family whenever they are concerned about their health. There should be no reason to shy away from at least giving them a call.

Here are some common ailments and how one should approach them; if they should call their family medicine professional or wait it out.

Fever

Fever in children is their little body’s common reaction to any type of infection in the body. The raised temperature makes the body inhospitable for any germs. The best thing to do is to give them over-the-counter medications to reduce fever and keep them comfortable.

In adults, fever is another story. This is because the family medicine specialist is able to ask them about aches and pains, and about their medical history. Those with immune system deficiencies should take fever as the sign of inflammation and a possible more serious condition, and should definitely at least call their family medicine doctor.

Those who have the following should especially pay attention to fever:

• Rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory diseases
• Cancer
• HIV/AIDS

Outside of these diseases, anyone that is experiencing fever along with other symptoms should give the doctor a call.

Skin Conditions

If one has a huge flare up, and they’re quite bothered by a rash then they should definitely call their family medicine expert. If it’s just a bit of acne, or a random rash that’s not really bothering then one can try an over-the-counter allergy medicine or cream for rashes. In any case, if it is unbearable see a medical pro immediately. There is zero reason to be uncomfortable.

If noticing spots on the skin and they are itching, flaking, changing color, growing or bleeding it’s crucial to be seen. Melanoma can sometimes look like age spots, so don’t just write it off, especially if it’s unusual.

Anxiety

If the reason for the anxiety trigger is known, such as tomorrow is the big wedding day or a test is coming up, there’s no reason to call a family medicine specialist. However, if the anxiety is constant and it’s driving a person to drink, eat, lose sleep or any other serious symptoms that may cause one to harm themselves or others than medical attention is a must.

Keep in mind, a physician isn’t just there for physical ailments but mental as well. They are a confidant that one can express concerns to and feel comfortable doing so. Everyone suffers trials and tribulations sometimes. On a more serious note, symptoms of anxiety can mimic those of hyperthyroidism, so keep that in mind.

Bad Breath

Many will say, “Why on earth would I be concerned about bad breath, I’ll just brush my teeth or see the dentist.” While those are great options, chronic bad breath can be signs of many underlying issues. If it’s not remedied with oral healthcare, it could be a sign of:

• Lung problems
• Kidney problems
• Intestinal issues
• Cancer

Sweet or fruity breath? This wouldn’t normally set off the red flags, but it could be a sign of diabetes.

Excessive Belching

Much like bad breath, not too many individuals are concerned when they burp. While it’s normal to belch after a great meal or drink, it’s unnatural to excessively burp. The following conditions in addition to lots of burps may be a bad sign, and one should contact their family medicine professional if they are concerned:

• Burning chest
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Bloating
• Unexplained weight loss

Ripples From an Infant’s Distress

With all that has to happen in the womb, it’s amazing that anyone is ever born at all.

~Coleman Haggerty, CP~

William was born in the usual way to the delight of his family, relatives and their friends. He appeared as a beautiful baby boy and everyone rejoiced. On his second day of life a nurse found him gray and crying in a high-pitched tone indicating distress. His caregivers switched into emergency mode and immediately transferred him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The staff closely monitored him and conducted tests to rule out the most likely reasons for his distress. The tests were all came back normal. He stabilized and returned to looking and acting like a healthy baby.

When a baby is born we all expect or at least hope that no difficulties will arise. When a crisis arises for a newborn, we suddenly face the fragility of life. Babies are delicate and need a great deal of protection. We all accept that. But how do we react when a baby is faced with an unknown threat? We want to do what we can but we don’t know what we can do. We are left to rely on the medical experts and prayers to God to help the baby through the crisis.

I once heard a sermon by Father Brendan Breen reminding us that whatever we do ripples out through the world with effects on everyone. We obviously do not affect the whole world directly. What we do, good or bad, affects those who come into contact with us. Our actions affect those in contact with us and modify their outlook on life and their actions toward others, again for better or worse. Then those we have affected pass on to others what they have gained or lost from their experience with us. In that way we are all connected, even though we will never meet most of the people we affect indirectly.

As I just mentioned, we tend to see babies as fragile and helpless. Yet William has already had a wide-reaching effect on many people most of whom he will never meet. As word of his distress spread from his family to relatives and friends, others who were told of him gained an opportunity to turn their thoughts and prayers in his direction. All of these people got a chance to consider the fragility, wonder and connection with others we all share.

Thank you William for helping all of us to stay connected and human. Good health to you. We look forward to seeing how the rest of your life enriches us.

Life Lab Lessons

Treasure the lives of those you love.
Show them you care every chance you get.
Care for yourself. You are precious to others.
Care for people you don’t know when you have the chance.
Remember that we are all part of the human community.