The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on stent-graft placement in abdominal aortic aneurysms.

It replaces the previous guidance on stent-graft placement in abdominal aortic aneurysm (Interventional Procedures Guidance no. 10, September 2003). The Interventional Procedures Advisory Committee reconsidered the procedure based on the results of a systematic review commissioned by NICE, following publication of the results of the EndoVascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR) trials.

In February 2009 NICE published guidance on abdominal aortic aneurysm –endovascular stent-grafts that complements this guidance.

Description

This procedure is used to treat aneurysms of the abdominal aorta. 

Weakening of the wall of the aorta can lead to a dilatation of the vessel, or aneurysm. Aneurysms may rupture, causing internal bleeding.

Around 6000 operations on the aorta are carried out each year in England (Source: Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, ungrossed for missing data, 2000/1), most of which are for abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Smaller aneurysms and aneurysms in people considered unfit for surgery may be managed with medical treatment alone. The standard invasive treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysm is open surgical repair. The aneurysm is cut open and a graft is sewn in above and below the weakened area to allow normal blood flow.

Stent-graft placement is a minimally invasive alternative to open surgery. In this technique, the graft is mounted on a stent, which is inserted into the aorta via a catheter in the femoral artery. The stent is opened under X-ray guidance, wedging the graft across the aneurysm.

Coding and clinical classification codes for this guidance.

Your responsibility

This guidance represents the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, healthcare professionals are expected to take this guidance fully into account. However, the guidance does not override the individual responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer.

Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to implement the guidance, in their local context, in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations. Nothing in this guidance should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.