The Society for Vascular Surgery practice guidelines on the care of patients with an abdominal aortic aneurysm

J Vasc Surg. 2018 Jan;67(1):2-77.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2017.10.044.


Background: Decision-making related to the care of patients with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is complex. Aneurysms present with varying risks of rupture, and patient-specific factors influence anticipated life expectancy, operative risk, and need to intervene. Careful attention to the choice of operative strategy along with optimal treatment of medical comorbidities is critical to achieving excellent outcomes. Moreover, appropriate postoperative surveillance is necessary to minimize subsequent aneurysm-related death or morbidity.

Methods: The committee made specific practice recommendations using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation system. Three systematic reviews were conducted to support this guideline. Two focused on evaluating the best modalities and optimal frequency for surveillance after endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR). A third focused on identifying the best available evidence on the diagnosis and management of AAA. Specific areas of focus included (1) general approach to the patient, (2) treatment of the patient with an AAA, (3) anesthetic considerations and perioperative management, (4) postoperative and long-term management, and (5) cost and economic considerations.

Results: Along with providing guidance regarding the management of patients throughout the continuum of care, we have revised a number of prior recommendations and addressed a number of new areas of significance. New guidelines are provided for the surveillance of patients with an AAA, including recommended surveillance imaging at 12-month intervals for patients with an AAA of 4.0 to 4.9 cm in diameter. We recommend endovascular repair as the preferred method of treatment for ruptured aneurysms. Incorporating knowledge gained through the Vascular Quality Initiative and other regional quality collaboratives, we suggest that the Vascular Quality Initiative mortality risk score be used for mutual decision-making with patients considering aneurysm repair. We also suggest that elective EVAR be limited to hospitals with a documented mortality and conversion rate to open surgical repair of 2% or less and that perform at least 10 EVAR cases each year. We also suggest that elective open aneurysm repair be limited to hospitals with a documented mortality of 5% or less and that perform at least 10 open aortic operations of any type each year. To encourage the development of effective systems of care that would lead to improved outcomes for those patients undergoing emergent repair, we suggest a door-to-intervention time of <90 minutes, based on a framework of 30-30-30 minutes, for the management of the patient with a ruptured aneurysm. We recommend treatment of type I and III endoleaks as well as of type II endoleaks with aneurysm expansion but recommend continued surveillance of type II endoleaks not associated with aneurysm expansion. Whereas antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for patients with an aortic prosthesis before any dental procedure involving the manipulation of the gingival or periapical region of teeth or perforation of the oral mucosa, antibiotic prophylaxis is not recommended before respiratory tract procedures, gastrointestinal or genitourinary procedures, and dermatologic or musculoskeletal procedures unless the potential for infection exists or the patient is immunocompromised. Increased utilization of color duplex ultrasound is suggested for postoperative surveillance after EVAR in the absence of endoleak or aneurysm expansion.

Conclusions: Important new recommendations are provided for the care of patients with an AAA, including suggestions to improve mutual decision-making between the treating physician and the patients and their families as well as a number of new strategies to enhance perioperative outcomes for patients undergoing elective and emergent repair. Areas of uncertainty are highlighted that would benefit from further investigation in addition to existing limitations in diagnostic tests, pharmacologic agents, intraoperative tools, and devices.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis / standards
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / complications
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / diagnosis
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / genetics
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / surgery*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis
  • Clinical Decision-Making / methods
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / standards
  • Endoleak / diagnosis
  • Endoleak / surgery
  • Endovascular Procedures / adverse effects
  • Endovascular Procedures / methods
  • Endovascular Procedures / standards*
  • Humans
  • Perioperative Care / methods
  • Perioperative Care / standards
  • Preoperative Care / standards
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Assessment / standards
  • Risk Factors
  • Societies, Medical / standards*
  • Specialties, Surgical / standards*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Grafting / adverse effects
  • Vascular Grafting / instrumentation
  • Vascular Grafting / methods
  • Vascular Grafting / standards*
  • Watchful Waiting / standards


  • Biomarkers