Abdominal aortic aneurysm facts
- An aneurysm is an abnormal area of localized widening of a blood vessel.
- The aorta bulges at the site of an aneurysm like a weak spot on a worn tire.
- Aortic aneurysms are typically spindle-shaped and involve the aorta below the arteries to the kidneys.
- The most common cause of an aneurysm is arteriosclerosis. Smoking is a major risk factor.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysms often do not cause symptoms. If they do, they may cause deep boring pain in the lower back or flank. Prominent abdominal pulsations may be present.
- X-rays of the abdomen and other radiologic tests including ultrasound, CT, and MRI may be used in diagnosing and monitoring the aneurysm.
- Rupture of an aortic aneurysm is a catastrophe.
- Repair of the aneurysm can be done by surgery or endovascular stenting.
What is an aneurysm?
An aneurysm is an area of a localized widening (dilation) of a blood vessel. The word "aneurysm" is borrowed from the Greek "aneurysma" meaning "a widening."
What is an aortic aneurysm?
An aortic aneurysm involves the aorta, the major artery that leaves the heart to supply blood to the body. An aortic aneurysm is a dilation or bulging of the aorta.
What is the thoracic and abdominal aorta?
The aorta is the large artery that exits the heart and delivers blood to the body. It begins at the aortic valve that separates the left ventricle of the heart from the aorta and prevents blood from leaking back into the heart after a contraction, when the heart pumps blood. The various sections of the aorta are named based upon “arch-like” initial design and the location in the body. Thus, the beginning of the aorta is referred to as the ascending aorta, followed by the arch of the aorta, then the descending aorta. The portion of the aorta that is located in the chest (thorax) is referred to as the thoracic aorta, while the abdominal aorta is located in the abdomen. The abdominal aorta extends from the diaphragm to the mid-abdomen where it splits into the iliac arteries that supply the legs with blood.