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Open Repair of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Open repair is surgery to remove an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The AAA will be replaced with a graft. A graft is a tube made of plastic or other material. After surgery, blood will flow through the graft instead of the aneurysm. This prevents aneurysm leak or rupture.
Call 911 or have someone else call for any of the following:
- You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
- Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
- You may also have any of the following:
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
- You cough up blood.
- You have trouble breathing.
- You faint or lose consciousness.
- You cannot be woken.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have sudden sharp pain in your abdomen, groin, back, legs, or buttocks.
- You feel dizzy.
- You have stiffness, swelling, or a lump in your abdomen.
- You have trouble walking or moving your legs.
- Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- Your stitches come apart.
- Your leg feels numb, cool, or looks pale.
- The skin in your buttocks feels cold and is pale, purple, or black.
- You have blood in your bowel movements.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever or chills.
- Your incision is red, swollen, or draining pus.
- You cannot control your urine or bowel movements.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or you have a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take a blood thinner. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any other medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Take your blood thinner exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not skip does or take less than prescribed. Tell your provider right away if you forget to take your blood thinner, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin:
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Shower one time each day. Do not take a bath. A bath can increase the risk that your incision will get infected. Carefully wash around your incision with soap and water. It is okay to let the soap and water run over your incision. Do not scrub your incision. Pat the area dry and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty. If you have Steri-strips™, let them fall off on their own. It may take 7 to 14 days for them to fall off. Check your incision every day for redness, swelling, or pus.
- Wear an abdominal binder as directed. An abdominal binder will decrease pain when you move or cough.
- Rest as needed. Get up and move around as directed to help prevent blood clots. Start with short walks and slowly increase the distance every day. Limit the number of times you climb stairs to 2 times each day. Plan most of your daily activities on 1 level of your home.
- Do not lift objects heavier than 10 pounds for 6 weeks. This can put too much stress on your incision.
- Do not go in pools or hot tubs for 6 weeks or as directed. This may cause your incision to get infected.
- Ask when it is safe for you to drive, return to work, and return to other regular activities.
Take deep breaths and cough 10 times each hour. This will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath. Then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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