Endovascular surgery is surgery performed on various parts of the body by access through a major blood vessel. There are many new advancements being made that allow for endovascular surgery to be performed on numerous areas of the body. The most common endovascular surgeries are performed on the heart and are done with access through a femoral artery.
Common heart surgeries done today using endovascular procedures are:
- Valve repair
- Clot removal
During an endovascular surgery, the patient can be either sedated or completely anesthetized. Once the patient is ready, the surgeon will make an incision near the artery they will be using to insert the surgery catheter. Once the catheter is in place a dye is used that shows up on x-ray to help the surgeon see the area better. Then using the catheter as well as microscopic tools and x-ray the surgeon can guide the instruments to the affected part of the body. In this case, the surgeon can guide the catheter and then the surgical instruments to the affected part of the heart. The affected area can then be closely examined and repaired.
The advantages of having endovascular surgery over traditional open heart surgery include:
- Faster recovery time. Instead of spending a week to ten days in the hospital patients are usually allowed to go home after two or three days.
- Less risk of infection. Because the incision area is smaller the risk of infections is greatly decreased.
- Less blood loss. Open incisions are by nature more invasive and thus cause more of a blood loss than that of a smaller incision near an artery.
- Less pain. There will still be some pain associated with endovascular surgery, but it will be much less than that associated with an open procedure.
Weighing the pros and cons. While endovascular surgery definitely has its advantages, there are some other items to consider as well. In some situation the repair done during endovascular surgery is a temporary one that may need to be repeated. In these situations it is important to consider the overall health, age, and wellness of a patient now vs. at the time of a later surgery. If it is determined that an open repair will serve the patient better in the long term, and that they are in a better overall health now, your surgeon may suggest doing surgery the traditional open way instead of having to repeat something later on.
Before deciding on which surgery is best for you, do the research, review the options, and talk to your doctors and surgeons. Ask the questions that seem most important, and above all else remember that the purpose of any surgery is to restore you to better health and well being.