Popliteal aneurysm surgery: What it is, how it works, and recovery times (full sample)

Popliteal aneurysm surgery: What it is, how it works, and recovery times (full sample)

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A popliteal aneurysm is caused due to a weakening of the walls of the popliteal artery which supplies blood to the legs. In this article, we explore what a popliteal aneurysm is, how it is diagnosed, what the surgery involves, likely recovery times and possible complications.

Popliteal aneurysm surgery or PAS is a surgical procedure carried out on the artery that supplies blood to the legs. In this article we'll explore what's involved in PAS, what you can expect, possible complications and expected recovery times.

What is a popliteal aneurysm?

A popliteal aneurysm occurs due to the weakening of the wall of the popliteal artery, which supplies blood to the thigh, knee and calf. When the artery wall weakens, this causes a bulge in the artery, known as an aneurysm. If left untreated, the aneurysm can burst, leaking blood into the surrounding leg tissue. This can become a life-threatening condition for several reasons:

  • Internal bleeding from the artery, resulting in significant blood loss and low blood pressure.

  • Blood not being supplied to the leg, meaning the limb is not receiving the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function.

  • Blood clots forming in the artery and surrounding areas; these blood clots can cause a blockage in the circulatory system or a stroke if they reach the brain.

For these reasons, surgery is an urgent requirement as soon as an aneurysm is detected.

How are popliteal aneurysms diagnosed?

A popliteal aneurysm may be detected during a routine exam by a doctor or occasionally as a result of localized pain or weakness in the leg, especially behind the knee or in the foot. If a doctor suspects a popliteal aneurysm, they will request an ultrasound exam of the affected area. This exam will confirm if there is an aneurysm or any blood clots.

How is popliteal aneurysm surgery performed?

PAS is normally a low-risk procedure and the repairs made during the surgery are often long-lasting and durable. During the procedure, a surgeon will:

  • Make an incision in the leg close to the site of the aneurysm.

  • Repair the aneurysm by using another section of a patient's vein or an artificial artery substitute; this is known as a bypass.

  • Ensure that blood is flowing correctly following the repair.

  • Suture the incision site.

What is the recovery time from this type of surgery?

Depending on the patient, recovery times can vary. Typical recovery times are:

  • A hospital stay of three to five days after the operation.

  • Walking with assistance after three to five days.

  • Removal of sutures or staples after seven to ten days.

  • Light walking activities and exercise after two to three weeks.

  • Normal walking activities and exercise after four to six weeks.

Are there likely to be any risks or complications as a result of PAS?

  • If the artery was completely blocked, recovery can be much more prolonged and could take several weeks to several months.

  • Recovery times can also be impacted by a patient's level of fitness, lifestyle, nutrition and several other factors.

  • Most patients will not need crutches as a result of the surgery.

In closing

If you believe that you may be suffering from a popliteal aneurysm, you should be examined by your doctor as soon as possible. Providing that it is identified and treated early, a popliteal aneurysm need not have any ongoing or long-term impact on a patient's quality of life.

Content originally written by Paul Maplesden, a freelance writer, and edited by me.

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