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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Vascular services can be used to diagnose and repair an aneurysm in your abdomen. Aneurysms can form in any blood vessel in your body, but they develop most commonly in your aorta, the largest artery in your body. Aortic aneurysms commonly occur in your abdomen.

What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of your aorta that occurs in the part of your aorta that passes through the middle to lower part of your abdomen.

What are the symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
Though abdominal aortic aneurysms often cause no symptoms, some common symptoms may include:

  • Pain in your chest, abdomen, and/or in your back between your shoulder blades
  • Sudden unexplained chest, abdominal, or back pain
  • A feeling of a mass in your stomach

What causes an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
Abdominal aortic aneurysm may be caused by

  • Atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up along the inside walls of arteries
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain inherited conditions

What are some risk factors for an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
You may be at risk for an abdominal aortic aneurysm if you have:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain inherited conditions

How is an abdominal aortic aneurysm diagnosed?
Since abdominal aortic aneurysms often cause no symptoms, they may be detected while you are being tested or treated for another condition. To diagnose an abdominal aortic aneurysm, your doctor may use:

  • Ultrasound: an imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to view your aorta.
  • Angiography: a minimally invasive procedure that uses X-ray and contrast dye to see your aorta in real time.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): an imaging test that uses radio waves, a magnet, and often contrast dye to create images of your aorta.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: an imaging test that helps locate bleeding in your abdomen.

How is an abdominal aortic aneurysm treated?
Small abdominal aortic aneurysms that do not cause symptoms are usually monitored over time until they become large and are at a higher risk of rupturing. If your abdominal aortic aneurysm causes symptoms or becomes large, the weakened part of your aorta can be reinforced with minimally invasive stent grafting. You may also need surgery to repair the aneurysm.

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