Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair - open - discharge
AAA - open - discharge; Repair - aortic aneurysm - open - discharge
When You Were in the Hospital
You had open aortic aneurysm surgery to repair an aneurysm (a widened part) in your aorta, the large artery that carries blood to your belly (abdomen), pelvis, and legs.
You have a long incision (cut) either in the middle of your belly or on the left side of your belly. Your surgeon repaired your aorta through this incision. After spending 1 to 3 days in the intensive care unit (ICU), you spent more time recovering in a regular hospital room.
What to Expect at Home
Plan to have someone drive you home from the hospital. Do NOT drive yourself home.
You should be able to do most of your regular activities in 4 to 8 weeks. Before that:
Do not lift anything heavier than 10 to 15 pounds until you see your doctor.
Avoid all strenuous activity. This includes heavy exercising, weightlifting, and other activities that make you breathe hard or strain.
Short walks and using stairs are okay.
Light housework is okay.
Don't push yourself too hard. Increase how much you exercise slowly.
Your doctor will prescribe pain medicines to use at home. If you are taking pain pills 3 or 4 times a day, try taking them at the same times each day for 3 to 4 days. They may be more effective this way.
Try getting up and moving around if you are having some pain in your belly. This may ease your pain.
Press a pillow over your incision when you cough or sneeze to ease discomfort and protect your incision.
Make sure your home is safe as you are recovering.
Change the dressing over your surgical wound once a day, or sooner if it becomes soiled. Your doctor will tell you when you do not need to keep your wound covered. Keep the wound area clean. You may wash it with mild soap and water if your doctor says you can. See also: Surgical wound care
You may remove the wound dressings and take showers if sutures, staples, or glue were used to close your skin if your doctor says you can.
If tape strips (Steri-strips) were used to close your incision, cover the incision with plastic wrap before showering for the first week. Do not try to wash off the Steri-strips or glue.
Do not soak in a bathtub or hot tub, or go swimming, until your doctor tells you it is okay.
Surgery will not cure the cause of your aneurysm. Your arteries may become widened again, or you may have this problem in another artery. You will need to make lifestyle changes to try to prevent the problem from coming back:
Eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise, stop smoking (if you smoke), and reduce stress to help lower your chances of having a blocked artery again.
If you were given medicines for blood pressure or diabetes, take them as your doctor has asked you to.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor or nurse if:
You have pain in your belly or back that does not go away or is very bad.
Your legs are swelling.
You have chest pain or shortness of breath that does not go away with rest.
You have dizziness, fainting, or you are very tired.
You are coughing up blood or yellow or green mucus.
You have chills or a fever over 100.5 °F.
Your belly hurts or feels distended.
There are changes in your surgical incision:
The edges are pulling apart.
You have green or yellow drainage.
You have more redness, pain, warmth, or swelling.
Your bandage is soaked with blood.
Your legs are swelling.
You have blood in your stools.
You are not able to move your legs.
De Bruin JL, Baas AF, Buth J, Prinssen M, Verhoeven EL, Cuypers PW, van Sambeek MR, Balm R, Grobbee DE, Blankensteijn JD; DREAM Study Group. Long-term outcome of open or endovascular repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm. N Engl J Med. 2010 May 20;362(20):1881-9.
Gloviczki P, Ricotta JJ II. Aneurysmal vascular disease. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 65.
Greenhalgh RM, Powell JT. Endovascular repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm. N Engl J Med. 2008 Jan 31;358(5):494-501.
Lederle FA, Kane RL, MacDonald R, Wilt TJ. Systematic review: repair of unruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. Ann Intern Med. 2007 May 15;146(10):735-41.
Shabir Bhimji, MD, PhD, Specializing in General Surgery, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.