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.
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:
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:
Call your doctor or nurse if:
AAA - open - discharge; Repair - aortic aneurysm - open - discharge
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.
Updated by: 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.
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