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Aortic aneurysm

An aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the aorta, the largest blood vessel leading away from the heart. Aortic aneurysms usually occur in the abdomen below the kidneys and are dangerous because they may burst and cause internal bleeding if left untreated. These aneurysms can occur as a result of plaque build-up on the wall of the aorta. They may also be due to inherited diseases such as the Marfan syndrome.

Symptoms

Aortic aneurysms may be asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) or symptomatic. The symptoms of an aneurysm may resemble other conditions so it is important to consult a physician for a proper diagnosis.

Aortic aneurysms may be a byproduct of certain diseases. This includes genetic disorders such as Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Turner's syndrome. The aneurysm can also be a result of congenital syndromes or infectious conditions such as syphilis or salmonella.

Pain is the most common symptom of an aortic aneurysm. This pain may be located in the abdomen, chest, lower back or groin area. The pain may be severe or dull. The occurrence of pain is often associated with the imminent rupture of the aneurysm. Acute, sudden pain in the back and/or abdomen may mean the aneurysm has ruptured and is a life-threatening medical emergency.

Treatment

Treatment options for aortic aneurysms are determined by the patient's age, overall health, medical history and extent of the aneurysm. Treatments can include lifestyle changes to control risk factors, including regular exercise, proper nutrition and smoking cessation. Treatment may also include medication. 

Typically, an aortic aneurysm is treated surgically by sewing an artificial piece of blood vessel into the aortic valve where the aneurysm is. This treatment is considered the surgical standard for repairing an aortic aneurysm. 

The UK Vascular Surgery team works together to offer patients the most up-to-date information on the latest diagnosis and treatment methods. Call 859-257-1000 or toll free 1-800-333-8874 for an appointment.

Resources

Aortic Aneurysm - American Heart Association 

Page last updated: 6/17/2014 10:37:55 AM