Aortic Aneurysm

An aortic aneurysm (AA) is a ballooning or dilation of the aorta, the body’s main artery that carries blood from the heart through the chest and the abdomen. Aortic aneurysms may form anywhere along the aorta, but are most common in the belly region (abdominal aortic aneurysm) and the upper body or chest region (thoracic aortic aneurysm).

Medical problems, such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), weaken artery walls and can cause them to bulge outward.

When aortic tissue is overstretched and weak, it can burst and cause serious bleeding. Sometimes, aortic aneurysms may cause complications such as blood clotting and strokes.


Most aortic aneurysms don’t cause symptoms, but some people may complain about belly, chest or back pain and discomfort.


Aneurysms may be diagnosed through screening tests or by chance during regular exams and tests. If your doctor thinks you have an aneurysm, you may need a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound to find out where it is and how big it is.


Treatment of an aortic aneurysm depends on the severity of the problem.Small aneurysms can be monitored and treated with blood pressure medication. Minimally-invasive endovascular repair is considered if the aneurysm has not ruptured and is 5 centimeters or more in size. One or more of the following imaging studies may be considered in determining which treatment options to use.

  • High resolution, computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Angiography (an x-ray of the blood vessels)
  • Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), to record ultrasound images of your heart from inside your esophagus, or food pipe
  • Intravascular ultrasound

Endovascular repair of thoracic aortic aneurysms is generally less painful and has a lower risk of complications than traditional surgery because the incisions are smaller. Endovascular aorta aneurysm procedures also allow you to leave the hospital sooner and recover more quickly after your aorta repair.




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