What is a popliteal artery aneurysm ?
Aneurysms (a widening of the artery) can occur in the popliteal artery which is located behind the knee. Patients rarely have any symptoms due to this type of aneurysm and It is often discovered during a routine physical examination. The cause of these aneurysms is unknown. They tend to occur in older men and women (more common in men) and occur in both legs about 50% of the time.
A popliteal artery aneurysm is most commonly confirmed with an ultrasound exam. The ultrasound helps determine the size of the aneurysm and whether it contains a clot. These types of aneurysms rarely rupture, but they are considered dangerous because they can either clog the artery or cause a clot to travel down the artery and into the foot. Either of these can lead to the need for amputation of the lower leg and foot.
How is a popliteal artery aneurysm treated?
After confirmation of the presence of a popliteal artery aneurysm, a determination is made as to whether repair is necessary at that time. Each case is different and a decision must be made by the patient's physician as to whether surgery (open or minimally invasive) is necessary or whether close follow up and careful observation is the better option.
Surgical Repair Options
The surgeons at PHCVI perform both open surgery and endovascular procedures to repair popliteal aneurysms. Which of these procedures is recommended for you will depend on the size and placement of your aneurysm as well as your overall health and physical condition. Endovascular options are considered particularly appropriate for patients who are "not good risks" for the more standard type of repair due to, for example, cardiac or pulmonary conditions.
Endovascular Repair. This surgery is less invasive than open surgery. Your surgeon inserts a long, flexible tube (catheter) into an artery in your groin or through the skin and threads the catheter to the aneurysm. Your doctor then inserts an artificial tube (stent graft) through the catheter into the affected area and expands it against the walls of the artery. This helps to prevent the risk of a blood clot moving to and blocking the leg arteries, prevents rupture of the aneurysm, and avoids blockage of the knee artery. People who have endovascular intervention may have a quicker recovery and shorter hospital stays compared with open surgery
Open Surgery Repair. In open surgery, your surgeon cuts the skin and tissue to reach the aneurysm directly. Surgeons may use a vein graft or a prosthetic graft to bypass the aneurysm. During surgery to bypass the aneurysm, surgeons open the sac of the aneurysm, remove the blood clot and suture together the opposing walls to prevent a recurrence.