Aneurysms are outpouchings of blood vessels or areas where blood vessels are dilated and larger than normal. They occur mostly in arteries that carry fast-flowing blood, and they result from weakening of the wall of the blood vessel. This weakening of the blood vessel wall can happen for many different reasons, including genetic diseases, trauma, atherosclerosis, and even infection.
Aneurysms can occur anywhere in the body, including in the arteries that supply the spleen, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys. When aneurysms are present, they can accumulate a blood clot in them, and this clot can break off and become lodged in smaller blood vessels downstream, causing damage to the organ. Also, larger aneurysms can rupture, which is serious and potentially life-threatening.
In the past, aneurysms were treated by surgery that required an incision, general anesthesia, and a prolonged hospital stay and recovery. Today, most aneurysms are treated with the use of small catheters placed inside the blood vessels that can be guided up to the aneurysm.
The aneurysm can then be blocked off by delivering tiny coils into the aneurysm or by using a special covered tubular device called a stent graft. Either way, the goal is to block the aneurysm from getting any further flow into it.
Aneurysm procedures are performed with conscious sedation, a process in which you are given medication to make you sleepy but not unconscious. Conscious sedation requires that you not eat a meal for 8 hours before the procedure.
Most medications can be taken the morning of the procedure except for medications that affect blood clotting (aspirin, Plavix, Lovenox, Coumadin, etc). If you are taking one of these medications, you may need to stop taking it or be switched to another medicine for a few days before the procedure. This will be coordinated by your doctor, if necessary.
After the procedure, you should expect to be given appropriate pain medications if you are having any procedure-related pain. You may need to stay overnight, depending on how you are doing after the procedure, but most people can go home the same day, and it is rare for any further treatment to be required.
Our interventional radiologists specialize in treating aneurysms and the areas of the body affected by them. In addition to the training that all radiologists receive, these specialists have additional fellowship training in interventional radiology, plus extensive real-world experience.
Our team of interventional radiologists and physician assistants coordinates your complete care – from imaging evaluation to post-procedure follow-up – maintaining a high level of communication with you throughout the process.
In addition, we coordinate closely with experts from across the UT Southwestern community when necessary.
To meet with an interventional radiologist at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas, or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.