An aneurysm is an abnormal bulging or weakness in the wall of an artery. As blood travels through the affected artery, the blood pressure causes the weakened area to bulge outwards like a balloon. Typically asymptomatic, aneurysms can enlarge over time, increasing the risk of rupture.
TYPES OF ANEURYSMS
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Also known as AAA, abdominal aortic aneurysms form in the abdominal section of the aorta, an essential blood vessel that supplies blood to the legs. AAAs are fairly common, with 200,000 Americans diagnosed each year. Family history of aneurysm is very important, as likelihood of developing a AAA is much higher. For most, AAAs bring no symptoms, but some report sudden or severe pain in the abdomen or back.
Peripheral aneurysms occur in arteries outside of the aorta and the brain – most typically in the legs or neck. Peripheral aneurysms are fairly rare and typically genetic. Most are asymptomatic, but some patients report sudden leg pain, weakness, swelling, or numbness related to aneurysms located in the leg.
Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms (TAA) are rare. They occur in the section of the aorta located in the chest (thorax), and most are asymptomatic.
Visceral Artery Aneurysm
Visceral arterial aneurysms are uncommon and occur in the wall of an artery supplying blood to either the liver, spleen, kidneys, or intestines. Most are asymptomatic, although some patients report abdominal or flank pain.
Many aneurysms are discovered incidentally while tests are being performed for other reasons. Diagnosis typically stems from physical examination and CT, MRI, or ultrasound imaging. Sometimes aneurysms are identified on an angiogram when artery health is being assessed.
Not all aneurysms require treatment at the time of diagnosis. For aneurysms that are smaller in size and less likely to rupture, your physician may opt to closely monitor the aneurysm instead. Aneurysms that are larger and more likely to rupture or cause symptoms can be treated through an open surgical procedure or a less invasive endovascular procedure.
Aortic Aneurysm Endograft Repair
Aortic Endograft Repair is a minimally invasive procedure often used to treat aortic aneurysms. X-ray guidance is used to position endografts (stents covered with impermeable fabric) in the aorta. The endografts create an internal conduit (bridge) for blood flow, which relieves pressure to the aneurysm and eliminates the risk of rupture.
Aneurysm Embolization and Stent Placement
Vascular embolization is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat aneurysms that are at risk for rupture and bleeding. Using X-ray guidance, neurointerventional radiologists send a catheter to the aneurysm and fill the affected area with small metal coils, which block the blood flow to the aneurysm and prevent the risk of rupture. In some cases, depending on the location of the aneurysm, a graft is used to create a stent for blood flow, relieving pressure to the aneurysm and preventing the risk of rupture.
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Below you'll find answers to some of the questions we are commonly asked by patients. Please contact our ARA Cares Coordinator at (828) 436-5500 with any additional questions or concerns.