THURSDAY, July 21, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A U.S. national clinical trial is under way to determine whether preventive surgery using devices called stents can treat an abdominal aortic aneurysm better than holding off on treatment until the aneurysm grows to a larger size.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakening or ballooning in the wall of the abdominal aorta, the largest artery in the body. If the aneurysm bursts, it can prove deadly. Less than half of people who suffer a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm survive.
The clinical trial, led by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, will include about 1,680 patients at 70 centers across the United States. Half of patients with aneurysms between 4 and 5 centimeters will receive preventive surgery to implant a stent -- a tiny mesh tube used to prop open narrowed vessels. The other patients will be monitored with ultrasound every six months. The two groups will be tracked for five years.
"Treatment traditionally involved a major open surgical operation with a large incision and a long recovery period. The magnitude of the procedure was such that it has been reserved for patients with larger aneurysms," principal investigator Dr. Kenneth Ouriel, chairman of the division of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, said in a prepared statement.
"The advent of a minimally invasive approach with stent grafts may offer an option that is reasonable for smaller aneurysms. This contention, however, must be proven with a clinical study," Ouriel said.
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has more about aortic aneurysms.