Need a Dentist?
You can now find and book a dentist on HealthEngine, including convenient after-hours and weekend appointments.
Book a Dentist | Close
HealthEngine Open Appointments helps you find an available GP and book your appointment online.
Finding and booking an appointment online is quick, convenient, private, and free!
Since arteries are elastic and are filled with blood under high pressure, the wall of the artery may become weakened and distended like a balloon. The analogy of a bubble in a garden hose would be appropriate in describing an aneurysm. Aneurysms are usually discovered before they produce symptoms, such as back pain, but like the weakened hose, they may rupture if they become too large. Since a ruptured aneurysm is extremely dangerous, causing life-threatening bleeding, aneurysms are best corrected by an operation before this happens.
Most aneurysms occur in the abdomen. Abdominal aortic aneurysms occur most frequently in people over age 60 and most commonly at a point in the aorta just below the level of the kidneys. Men are more commonly affected by aneurysms than women.
Most people are unaware that they have an aneurysm because in most cases, there are no symptoms. However, as aneurysms grow, symptoms may include:
A ruptured aneurysm usually produces sudden, severe pain and other symptoms such as loss of consciousness or shock, depending on the location of the aneurysm and the amount of bleeding. A ruptured aneurysm requires emergency treatment.
Most abdominal aneurysms are diagnosed during a routine physical examination or on X-rays when being tested for other health concerns. Once an aneurysm is suspected, the following imaging tests may be used to determine size, location of the aneurysm, and treatment options:
Very large or symptomatic aneurysms require immediate treatment. There are two types of surgical treatments for large aneurysms.
This involves the surgeon making an incision to access the abdominal aortic aneurysm. The diseased portion of the aorta is replaced with a graft that acts as a replacement blood vessel. Open surgical repair is a proven procedure that has a good track record and acceptable risks. But it also involves a long recovery period. Average hospital stay ranges from 5 to 8 days. The time until return to normal activity ranges from 6 weeks to 3 months. As with any operation, open surgical repair has a risk of complications. You will want to discuss them thoroughly with your doctor.
“Endovascular” means “inside or within a blood vessel” — and that is exactly how a small fabric tube that has metal stents attached to the fabric, called a stent-graft, is introduced into your body and moved into place. First, small incisions are made in each groin to get to arteries that carry blood from the aorta. The surgeon then moves the stent-graft up through these arteries until it is opened inside the diseased portion of aorta. The stent-graft reinforces the weakened part of the vessel from the inside and creates a new channel through which the blood flows, eliminating the risk of rupture. This procedure usually takes 1 to 3 hours and patients typically leave the hospital in 1 to 2 days. Return to normal activity ranges from 2 to 6 weeks. Like any medical procedure, endovascular repair has a risk of complications. It also involves regular routine follow-up visits with your doctor to evaluate the stent-graft. These regular follow-ups are extremely important and will require CT.
If you have a small aneurysm, your doctor will ask you to come back every 6 to 12 months for a CT or ultrasound to measure the size of your aneurysm and to review any other symptoms you may have. If surgery is recommended, you will need a comprehensive medical evaluation prior to your surgery. This may include a stress test and cardiology visit.
HealthEngine is dedicated to helping patients and health practitioners connect. We believe that when we do this well, everyone benefits.
Click here to find a GP near you.