Last updated: 4 Feb 2022  |  1647 Views  | 




An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bulging of the aorta, the main blood vessel that takes blood from the heart to organs and tissues in the lower half of the body. The aorta is the largest
artery in the body, and a stretching or bulging in the aorta is dangerous because this weakened area in the wall of the aorta may split open (rupture) if not treated. These aneurysms commonly occur in people older than 60 and affect men more than women. Ruptured aneurysms are the 10th leading cause of death in men older than 55 in the United States.

High blood pressure (which makes the aorta lining expand), cigarette smoking, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) are major risk factors. Others are aging, trauma, infections, and rare connective tissue disorders (e.g., Ehlers-Danlos syndrome).

Abdominal aortic aneurysms often don’t produce symptoms. When present, symptoms usually include pain in the middle of the abdomen (belly) or back.

Many aneurysms are found during routine physical examinations by doctors. A doctor can feel a large aneurysm pulsating over the middle of the abdomen. If an aneurysm is suspected, the doctor will order abdominal ultrasound (sonogram) and computed tomography (CT). Ultrasound is nearly 100% accurate in fi nding an aneurysm and can estimate the size, but CT is more accurate in estimating size.


An aneurysm can be repaired if found early, before rupture. If it splits open suddenly, death is likely unless the rupture is treated immediately. Treatment depends on aneurysm size and risk of rupture. If the aneurysm is small (less than 4 cm [1.5 inches] in diameter), no treatment may be needed, but regular check-ups (every 6 months to 1 year) and sonograms are advised to monitor if the aneurysm is becoming larger. Surgery to fi x aneurysms larger than 5 cm (2 inches) is usually recommended. The operation often involves putting a synthetic mesh tube (stent) in the aorta to make it stronger. Treatment of aneurysms between 4 and 5 cm (1.6 and 2 inches) remains unclear. Some doctors recommend surgery and others just follow-up examinations. If the aneurysm is growing more than 0.4 inch per year, surgery may be the best option.

Things to do

Do make sure that you control your blood pressure.

Do remember that the major complication of these
aneurysms is rupture.

Do call your doctor if you know you have an abdominal
aneurysm and get new back or abdominal pain.

Do call your doctor if you have pain, fever, or drainage
from incision sites after surgery.

don't do

DON’T forget the numbers 4 cm and 5 cm (surgery for aneurysms larger than 5 cm, watching aneurysms smaller than 4 cm).

DON’T smoke. Cigarette smoking and high blood pressure are believed to be major risk factors for these aneurysms.


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