Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
The abdominal aorta is the large artery that carries blood through your abdomen (stomach area) to the lower body. An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) is a weakness, or ballooning, of the abdominal aorta. Left untreated, this condition can result in a rupture of the aorta, a leading cause of death in the U.S.
AAA usually doesn't cause any symptoms. It's often found when tests, such as x-ray exams and CT scans, are done for an unrelated problem. Your doctor may also feel an aneurysm of the abdominal aorta during a routine physical exam.
When to Seek Emergency Care
If you know you have an AAA, call 911 if you have these symptoms:
- Pulsating or throbbing sensation in the abdomen
- Intense pain in your back, stomach, or groin area
- Pale skin
- Rapid heartbeat and dry mouth
- Dizziness or lightheaded feeling
Treatment Options for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Treatment for AAA usually depends on the size of the aneurysm. Treatment may include:
- Monitoring of a smaller aneurysm
- Lifestyle changes, especially quitting smoking
- Medications to control risk factors, such as high blood pressure
- A surgical procedure for a larger aneurysm
Surgical Procedures for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
A manmade graft (tube that creates a new passage for blood flow) is used to replace the weakened wall of the aorta. In open surgery, an incision is made to place the graft. Then the aortic wall is wrapped back around the graft.
Endovascular surgery is a newer, safer approach to treating AAA. A catheter (long, flexible tube) is inserted through the skin to guide the graft to the weakened part of the aorta. The graft is then secured in place. Endovascular surgery uses much smaller incisions than open surgery, and patients resume normal activities more quickly.
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