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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Cause and What to Watch For

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is an abnormally large artery in the abdomen. This usually occurs because of a weak artery wall, which is often inherited. If the artery grows too large it can rupture, which can be dangerous and even deadly.

Symptoms that you may experience:

  • Pulsatile mass in your abdomen, especially if tender
  • Sudden back pain
  • Sudden abdominal pain
  • Blue, cold toe (clots from the AAA can go down to your toes)
  • Bruising around the sides of your abdomen

How to Diagnose Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and may feel a pulsatile mass in your abdomen. Imaging tests that help diagnose an abdominal aortic aneurysm include ultrasound, CT scan and MRI scan.

How to Treat Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

The doctor may prescribe medications to control your blood pressure and cholesterol. Recommended lifestyle changes include quitting smoking and avoiding activities that cause you to strain. A procedure to repair the aneurysm may be needed.

Procedures to Treat AAA

  • Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR)
    • A covered stent is placed through the leg arteries which seals off the aneurysm. All the blood is directed through the covered stent so no blood goes into the aneurysm. Small incisions in the groins are made. Usually with full anesthesia. Usually stay in the hospital one day.
  • Open Aneurysm Repair
    • The abdomen is surgically opened and a new prosthetic artery is placed in the aorta. The blood then goes through the new manmade artery. Will full anesthesia. Typically a week recovery in the hospital.