Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

What is an Aortic Aneurysm?
An aneurysm is when a blood vessel becomes abnormally large or balloons outward. The abdominal aorta is a large blood vessel that supplies blood to your abdomen, the pelvis, and legs.

Causes of an Aortic Aneurysm
The exact cause is unknown, but risk factors for developing an aortic aneurysm include: High blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, and obesity. An abdominal aortic aneurysm can develop in anyone, but it is most frequently seen in people over 50 with one or more risk factors. The larger the aneurysm, the more likely it is to rupture. When an abdominal aortic aneurysm ruptures, it is a true medical emergency. Aortic dissection occurs when the innermost lining of the artery tears and blood leaks into the wall of the artery.

Symptoms of an Aneurysm
Aneurysms develop slowly over many years and often have no symptoms. If an aneurysm expands rapidly, tears open (ruptured aneurysm), or blood leaks along the wall of the vessel (aortic dissection), symptoms may develop suddenly.  The symptoms of rupture include:

  • Pulsating sensation in the abdomen
  • Pain in the abdomen that is severe, sudden, persistent, or constant.
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Clammy skin
  • Rapid heart rate when rising to a standing position
  • Shock
  • Abdominal mass

Nonsurgical Aneurysm Repair
A minimally invasive procedure that allows a graft (stent) to be guided within the blood vessel itself to the site of the aneurysm without the need to cut open the abdomen. Not all patients can have an endovascular repair of their AAA.  In order to work properly, an endograft must fit into and completely seal off the aneurysm. If the blood vessel is too large or has too many twists and turns, the endograft will not fit or seal off the aneurysm and the AAA will not be repaired. Doctors are nearly always able to decide which patients can and cannot have an endovascular repair by looking at the patient’s x-rays (CT scans and angiograms).

For more information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of an aortic aneurysm or to make an appointment with a CIVT physician call 212.305.7060.

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