An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the large blood vessel
that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs becomes
abnormally large or balloons outward. The exact cause is unknown,
but risk factors for developing an aortic aneurysm include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Male gender
- Genetic factors
An abdominal aortic aneurysm can develop in anyone but is most
often seen in males over 60 who have one or more risk factors.
The larger the aneurysm, the more likely it is to rupture.
Learn more about Abdominal Aortic Anuerysms
Aneurysms develop slowly over many years and often present no
symptoms. If an aneurysm expands rapidly or tears open, or if
blood leaks along the wall of the vessel, symptoms may develop
suddenly. These may include:
- Pain in the abdomen or back - severe, sudden, persistent or
constant. The pain may radiate to the groin, buttocks or legs.
- Clammy skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heart ratetex
Anyone with pain in the belly or back that does not go away or is
very severe should go to the emergency room or call 911.
Internal bleeding caused by an aortic aneurysm will require open
abdominal aortic aneurysm repair. If the aneurysm is small and
there are no symptoms, the patient and his or her doctor must
decide whether the risk of having surgery is smaller than the
risk of bleeding if surgery is not done. A surgeon may recommend
checking the size of the aneurysm with a yearly ultrasound test
to see if the aneurysm is enlarging.
Surgery is usually recommended for patients who have aneurysms
larger than 2 inches, or 5.5 cm, in diameter or are growing
quickly. The goal is to perform surgery before complications or
symptoms develop. There are two approaches to surgery:
- In a traditional (open) repair, a large cut is made in the
abdomen. The abnormal vessel is replaced with a graft using
- Endovascular stent grafting can be done without making a
large cut in the abdomen, so recovery time may be faster.
Endovascular repair is rarely done to repair a leaking or
Texas Health is committed to providing quality care to heart
and vascular patients throughout North Texas and beyond. While
various technologies and services are discussed here, not all of
our hospitals offer every treatment and diagnostic technology
highlighted. Call 1-877-THR-WELL to learn more about heart and
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