Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

The aorta is a large main artery that carries blood from the heart to the body.  An aneurysm is a widening or bulging out of the wall of this blood vessel.  When this bulging out or ballooning occurs, the aorta expands and becomes weak.  This could lead to a rupture or tear in the wall of the aorta causing life threatening blood loss.

Symptoms of an aneurysm

  • Usually there are no major symptoms prior to an abrupt rupture of an aneurysm.
  • Sometimes, patients will feel back or side pain with the beginning stages of an aneurysm rupture.
  • Most aneurysms are found when other tests such as x-rays or CT (computed *link? tomography) scans are taken for other health concerns.
  • Sometimes your health provider may notice a pulsation in your abdomen, just above your belly button on a routine exam and suspect an aneurysm.
  • A simple, painless test, an ultrasound or CT may be recommended if any of the above symptoms are present or if you are considered at high risk.

Associated risk

  • When an aneurysm ruptures abruptly a large amount of blood is lost quickly and this bleeding can be life threatening.
  • If the bleeding is detected in the early stages of a rupture, immediate surgery can be life saving.
  • If an aneurysm is detected as part of another test, your healthcare provider will carefully monitor the size and may refer you to a surgeon if necessary.

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