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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An aneurysm is a weakness in the wall of a blood vessel. They are found most commonly in the section of the main artery, the aorta, within the region of the abdomen. As this weakness expands from the pressure of blood within the vessel, the aorta enlarges.

If it gets weak enough it can burst which results in massive blood loss and a potentially fatal outcome. Although it may be possible to survive an emergency operation for a ruptured aneurysm, it is best to deal with this problem before it becomes dangerous.

How & When Do They Occur?

Aneurysms can occur as we age and are most commonly found in males, especially if there is a family history of aneurysms. Aneurysms can occur in any vessel but are usually found within the aorta of the chest or abdomen, and the popliteal arteries which are found behind the knees. Aneurysms of the heart and of the aortic root just as it leaves the heart are treated by cardiac surgeons and neurosurgeons repair aneurysms of the brain.

Most aneurysms are found by accident, usually on an xray which was being obtained for a different problem such as kidney stones or back trouble. If there is a family history of aneurysm then a screening test such as an ultrasound can be ordered by your physician. Once the aneurysm has enlarged the vessel to twice its normal size, then aneurysm repair is considered.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of a leaking abdominal aortic aneurysm can include intense back and belly pain of sudden onset followed by pain going into the legs. Because this can also describe many types of back problems it can result in visits to the emergency room for xray studies.

What Can Be Done?

Fortunately, over the past few years newer techniques for aneurysm repair have become available. In the majority of aortic aneurysms an Endovascular Procedure can place a graft covered stent within the aneurysm to allow the blood to flow through the graft and relieve the pressure from the artery wall. This method can usually be performed through two small incisions in the groin and allow a faster recovery. For those patients who are not a candidate for the new Endovascular technique, the traditional open repair through a larger incision can be considered.

The surgeons at NGPG Vascular Center will review all of your diagnostic tests and images in order to recommend the best treatment for your aneurysm.