Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Hillsborough & Somerville, NJ
What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)?
The aorta is the largest artery in your body, and it carries oxygen-rich blood pumped out of, or away from, your heart. When a weak area of the abdominal aorta expands or bulges, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The pressure from blood flowing through your abdominal aorta can cause a weakened part of the aorta to bulge, much like a balloon. A normal aorta is about 1 inch (or about 2 centimeters) in diameter. However, an AAA can stretch the aorta beyond its safety margin as it expands. Aneurysms are a health risk because they can burst or rupture. A ruptured aneurysm can cause severe internal bleeding, which can lead to shock or even death.
Fortunately, especially when diagnosed early before it causes symptoms, an AAA can be treated, or even cured, with highly effective and safe treatments.
Although you may initially not feel any symptoms with AAA, if you develop symptoms, you may experience one or more of the following:
- A pulsing feeling in your abdomen, similar to a heartbeat
- Severe, sudden pain in your abdomen or lower back. If this is the case, your aneurysm may be about to burst
What tests will I need?
Abdominal aortic aneurysms that are not causing symptoms are most often found when a physician is performing an imaging test, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, for another condition. Sometimes your physician may feel a large pulsing mass in your abdomen on a routine physical examination. If your physician suspects that you may have AAA, he or she may recommend an abdominal ultrasound.
How is an abdominal aortic aneurysm treated?
If your AAA is small, your physician may recommend “watchful waiting,” which means that you will be monitored every 6-12 months for signs of changes in the aneurysm size. An aneurysm will not “go away” by itself. It is extremely important to continue to follow up with your physician as directed because the aneurysm may enlarge to a dangerous size over time.
Endovascular stent graft
Your vascular surgeon may consider an endovascular stent graft. This procedure is less invasive, meaning that your surgeon will usually need to make only small incisions in your groin area through which to thread the catheters.
Open Surgical Aneurysm Repair
During an open aneurysm repair, your surgeon makes an incision in your abdomen and replaces the weakened part of your aorta with a tube-like replacement called an aortic graft. The strong tube takes the place of the weakened section in your aorta and allows your blood to pass easily through it. Both endovascular and open repair will require follow-up ultrasound visits. Courtesy Society for Vascular Surgery