Abnormal bulge or ballooning out of the wall of aorta- the major blood vessel (aorta) that carries blood from heart to the body. Aortic aneurysms can affect any part of the aorta and may be tubular or rounded.
Aortic aneurysms can be called:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm when it is seen below the diaphragm in the abdominal part of aorta. It accounts for about 75% of all aortic aneurysms.
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm when it is seen above the diaphragm in the chest.
- In rare cases an aortic aneurysm may be present in both abdomen and chest across the diaphragm.
An aortic aneurysm increases the risk of tearing up the aorta separating the inner and middle layers. This is a potentially fatal complication called aortic dissection. This may also cause an aneurysm to burst open causing sudden death.
Diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurysms are often incidental,found during tests for another reason or during routine medical check-up.
To confirm aortic aneurysm some tests can be done.
- CT scan.
Treatment depends on the size of the aortic aneurysm and it’s progression. Aim of treatment is to prevent rupture of aortic aneurysm. It can be
Medical monitoring is done for small aneurysms to look for any signs of growth.
Surgical repair is advised if the aortic aneurysm is about 5cm or larger or is growing rapidly. A ruptured aneurysm may cause abdominal pain and is a surgical emergency. Surgical repair of aneurysm can be done by:
- Open abdominal surgery. A synthetic tube is sewn after removing the damaged part.
- Endovascular repair. A synthetic graft is inserted into the aorta through an artery in the thigh and threaded over damaged aorta.
This reinforces the damaged thinned section of the aorta and prevents rupture of the aneurysm.
Long-term survival rates and results are similar for both open surgery and endovascular surgery.
Precautions to prevent aneurysm rupture are to avoid
- strenuous physical activity
- Heavy lifting
- Or any other condition which may raise blood pressure