The aortic artery (aorta) is the large artery that runs from your heart down through the center of your chest and abdomen. About the thickness of a garden hose, the aorta is the body’s main supplier of blood, sending blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs.
An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm occurs when a section of the aorta in the abdomen weakens and bulges at the site of an aneurysm, similar to a weak spot that bulges on a worn bicycle tire. Aneurysms can develop slowly over time, often with no symptoms. If an aneurysm expands too quickly, it may leak or rupture and cause life-threatening internal bleeding.
Are You at Risk?
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm may occur in anyone, but it is most common among males who have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Age 60 or older
- Smoke or chew tobacco
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Family history of AAA
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
If you have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor about scheduling a preventative ultrasound screening. AAA screenings are $35. Medicare pays for one AAA screening for beneficiaries who are at risk.
Treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
If you’ve been diagnosed with an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, you may be presented with several treatment options, including regular AAA screening to monitor the size of the aneurysm. In this case, one of Evansville Surgical Associates’ five board-certified and fellowship-trained vascular surgeons will work closely with your doctor to track the aneurysm using ultrasound in our accredited Vascular Lab. When it is determined that the aneurysm has become too large and at risk for rupture, your surgeon will schedule surgery to repair the aneurysm.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm surgery may be performed using an open-abdominal or an endovascular procedure.
Signs and Symptoms of an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Though most Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms are detected during imaging tests for unrelated problems, symptoms may include:
- Pulsing sensation near the navel
- Deep, constant pain in the abdomen
- Back pain
Signs that an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm may have ruptured include:
- Sudden, intense abdominal or back pain
- Pain that radiates to your back or legs
- Shortness of breath
- Sweatiness or clamminess
- Nausea or vomiting
- Low blood pressure
- Fast pulse
- Loss of consciousness