If you are a 65-year-old male with one or more of the four other risk factors consult your doctor.
The abdominal aorta is located in the abdomen. It’s the largest blood vessel in the body and it carries blood away from the heart. An aneurysm is the bulging or ballooning of a weakened area of a blood vessel.
An AAA is like a small balloon in the abdomen. It may silently and slowly grow. The more it grows and the more the walls of the aorta are stressed, the greater the possibility it could rupture all of a sudden.
Most AAAs have no symptoms. Medical examinations sometimes uncover a pulsating mass in the abdomen. Often, aneurysms are discovered by ‘accident’ when a patient has an imaging examination such as a CT scan, MRI scan or ultrasound for another condition.
Severe, sudden pain in the abdomen or back is a sign of a bursting AAA. Pain may spread to the groin, legs or buttocks. Clammy skin, dizziness, rapid heart rate, passing out and shock are also signs.
The risk of developing an AAA increases with age. AAA usually affects people over 65 years of age and is more common in men than in women. Other risks include smoking and high blood pressure. A patient with a family history of AAA is at higher risk and should consult a doctor.
Most AAA’s can be detected through an ultrasound screening. The screening test is quick and painless, involving a simple ultrasound of the abdomen, similar to a pregnancy ultrasound.
This is a minimally invasive procedure. A stent graft is placed inside the aneurysm without surgically opening the tissue surrounding it.
In this treatment option, your doctor repairs the aorta by making a large cut in the abdomen, removing the aneurysm and replacing it with a graft.
A stent graft is placed inside the aneurysm without surgically opening the tissue surrounding it. The stent graft is a fabric tube supported by a metal framework. This procedure is typically performed under local, regional or general anesthesia. It takes about one to three hours to complete.
Patients usually spend a few hours in the intensive care unit, remain in the hospital for one to two days and need four to six weeks to recover completely.
The aneurysm section of the aorta is removed and replaced with a fabric graft, which will act as a replacement blood vessel. The blood flow through the aorta is stopped while the graft is sewn into place. Open surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia. It takes about three to four hours to complete.
Patients usually spend one to two days in an intensive care unit, remain in the hospital for at least one week and may require two to three months to recover completely.
Watch the story of how Naomi’s complex anatomy was treated with a stent graft.
Benefits and risks are associated with both treatment options. You should talk with your doctor about which option is best for you. See our patient guide for more details.
If you feel any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:
It’s important to schedule regular follow-up visits with your doctor. Follow-up visits will help the doctor check your aneurysm and stent graft on a regular basis. Most often these will occur at one month, one year, and annually thereafter.
Law MR, Morris J, Wald N. Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms. J Med Screening. 1994;1: 110-116.