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When do I need surgery for an aneurysm?

Dr. Mark J. Russo, MD
Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Surgery is recommended in order to prevent an aortic catastrophes, including aortic rupture or aortic dissection. An aortic rupture is typically a fatal event. An aortic dissection is associated with a high rate of death as well as other serious complications including heart attack, stroke, and paralysis. The risk of these events increases with aortic size.

For aneurysms less than 5 cm, the risk of aortic catastrophe is approximately 4-6% per year. When the aneurysm grows to 5-6 cm, the annual risk increases to as much as 12% per year, and at 7cm it exceeds 25% per year. Given these risks, surgery is usually recommended for patients with aneurysms 5-5.5cm in diameter.

Once an aneurysm reaches 5 to 6 cm in diameter, the risk of rupture is very high. If rupture occurs, there is approximately an 80 to 95% chance of death. Therefore, the majority of vascular surgeons would agree that a 5 to 6 cm aneurysm should be repaired immediately, unless other medical factors make surgery risky.

Not all aneurisms require surgery, but the larger it grows, the more surgery becomes necessary.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.