An aortic aneurysm occurs when the large blood vessel (aorta), which supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs, becomes too large or balloons outward.
This condition can develop in individuals of any age, but is most commonly seen in males over age 60 who exhibit one or multiple risk factors from the list above.
Aneurysms typically develop slowly over a period of many years and often show no symptoms. If the aneurysm enlarges quickly, ruptures, or blood leaks along the wall of the vessel (aortic dissection), symptoms may immediately develop. Symptoms of a rupture include:
First, your doctor will examine your abdomen. He will also evaluate pulses in your legs. Your doctor will look for:
If an aortic aneurysm is causing bleeding inside your body, you will have an aortic aneurysm repair.
However, if the aortic aneurysm is small and there are no symptoms, you and your doctor must decide whether the risk of having surgery is smaller than the risk of the bleeding if you do not have surgery. Your doctor may also suggest having an ultrasound screening every six months to monitor the size of the aneurysm to see if it is getting bigger.
Surgery is often recommended if the aneurysm is bigger than 2 inches across or is growing quickly. The goal is to perform surgery before complications or symptoms develop.