Questions frequently asked prior to surgery:
Why do I need this procedure, are there other treatment options?
Your cardiologist, in conjunction with your cardiac surgeon will advise you of other possible treatment options; however, it is unlikely to vary from a surgical course of action when determined as the risk of not having surgery generally outweighs the risk of surgery itself.
Can I choose if I would like open or endovascular repair?
Yes, sometimes. This choice is based on the experience and knowledge of the cardiac surgeon and is tailored to fit individual patients. In some patients endovascular repair may not be an option.
What would happen if I decided not to have surgery?
This should be discussed with the cardiac surgeon but generally not having surgery to repair aortic disease will result in eventual rupture of the aorta, after which prognosis is poor.
What happens if the endovascular graft doesn’t work?
Sometimes the graft fails and the surgeon may be required to perform open heart surgery, or the surgeon may need to place additional grafts to ensure coverage is achieved.
How will I feel after the surgery, are there benefits or risks associated with recovery?
Most patients experience pain, nausea and general malaise after surgery, but these feelings tend to improve over the duration of the hospital stay. Patients are encouraged by nursing and physiotherapists to move around with assistance after surgery in order to regain some independence prior to going home. Activity restrictions include limited use of the arms for 6 weeks in order to allow the breastbone to heal (if open repair), including not lifting more than 5 pounds or using the arms for mobility or transfers.
What if I would like a second opinion?
Do not be afraid to ask for another opinion regarding your health and treatment plan. The cardiac surgery team at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute are highly skilled in the area of aortic repair and would be happy to assist a second opinion if desired.
How long will I need to stay in the hospital?
Depending on the type of surgery the hospital stay can range from 5-10 days, longer if open repair was done and less time if an endovascular approach was used.
Is there a place for my family to stay if I am from out of town?
Family members are encouraged to stay nearby in Hotel Village. The Foothills Medical Centre does have a hostel for emergency shelter in the case of emergency surgery, generally only until family can arrange for more appropriate accommodation as space is limited, this can be arranged through the Social Work department.
How long does recovery take, and what kind of follow-up is required?
Full recovery from open aortic repair can take 2-6 months or longer depending on the duration of surgery, complexity of disease and state of the patient prior to surgery. Recovery from an endovascular repair typically involves a 2-5 day length of stay in hospital with potential for full recovery in 1-2 weeks. While in hospital a repeat CT scan will be completed prior to discharge to ensure the repair was successful. Routine annual CT scans may also be recommended at the discretion of the surgeon.