Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

The aorta is the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Abdominal aorta is the portion of the aorta in the abdomen and it supplies blood to the stomach, pelvis and legs.

An aneurysm is an abnormal ballooning of a portion of a blood vessel because of weakness in its wall. Aneurysm may form on the abdominal aorta causing it to enlarge and balloon outwards. Endovascular graft repair is indicated to treat abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is an aneurysm located in the abdominal aorta.

The most common cause of aortic aneurysms is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fatty material becomes deposited along the walls of arteries. This weakens the lining of the artery and increases the risk of developing aneurysm.

The following factors can increase your risk of developing abdominal aortic aneurysm:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Heredity
  • Emphysema
  • Male gender
  • Older age

Symptoms

Most patients with AAA do not have any symptoms during its early stages of development. Usually, when the aneurysm ruptures you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the abdomen groin, back, legs or buttocks
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling of fullness even after eating small amount of food
  • Clammy, sweaty skin
  • Light-headedness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Numbness and tingling sensation in the legs

Diagnosis

Your doctor will diagnose abdominal aortic aneurysm through medical history and physical examination of your abdomen.

Other diagnostic tests that may be ordered to confirm the condition include:

Ultrasound of the abdomen: It provides clear picture of the blood flow within the arteries and size of an aneurysm.

CT Scan of the abdomen: It allows visualization of the blood flow in the Aorta.

Treatment Options

The treatment depends on the size and location of the aneurysm. If your aneurysm is smaller than 5cm and you do not have any symptoms, then your doctor may monitor your condition with regular check-ups and ultrasound imaging. This is referred to as a “wait and see” approach.

Conservative treatment approach for smaller abdominal aortic aneurysm includes lifestyle modifications such as healthy diet, quitting smoking, losing weight, controlling high blood pressure, and increasing physical activity and medications

If conservative treatment measures have failed to relieve the symptoms of AAA or if there is a risk of rupture due to the larger size of the aneurysm, a non-surgical procedure known as Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Endovascular Repair is usually recommended.