Understanding Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Author: The Surgical Clinic

A Tripple "A" stands for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. An Aneurysm is where you have a dilation of an artery, in this case the abdominal aorta. The problem with aneurysms is that they can develop some clot and get bigger.

And like balloon if they get too large they can burst - they can rupture - causing life-threatening bleeding. Most aneurysms are asymptomatic and that's what makes this difficult to treat. When aneurysms become symptomatic that means they're either ruptured or likely impending rupture. Symptoms that people feel are severe abdominal back or flank pain sometimes that pain can radiate down to the groin or even scrotum. The only treatment for an aneurysm is surgical. The old way - the classic way is to either large incision down the abdomen or over on the side. Go in. Open up the aneurysm, Place a graft through it to replace the aorta.

Currentl,y, we have endovascular techniques or techniques that go through the groin. So we can place what we call endo-vascular aneurysm repair. This is an aneurysm that sits in the body like this. These are the arteries going to the kidneys. This is the aneurysm - the aorta -you can see that it is already ballooned out. And these are the arteries going to legs. What we do is we have wires coming from the legs coming up into the aorta, And then we deploy this stent graft which just holds itself right below the renal arteries and comes down into the arteries that go down into the legs. And what this does is blood is forced through the stent and does not come out here in the aneurysm.

When this clots, this sac will shrink around the stent graft and the aneurysm is fixed. We're still studying to figure out exactly what is causing these. It's a weakness in the wall that causes to thin out and get larger. What we found are the risk factors include having a family history of these. There's certain connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan Syndrome, that can cause this.

Understanding Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

But the number-one risk factor we found is smoking. Male gender & age are also very strong risk factors. We're still figuring out exactly how screening should work.

However, we found that adult males who smoke should be screened with a one- time ultrasund at the age of 60. And the welcome to Medicare package actually offers this. And the way we screen, is with an abdominal ultrasound. The aneurysm can be seen. And if there is a large aneurysm we can refer anybody whether for a CT evaluation and MRA.

If patients do not have an aneurysm on that ultrasound. Odds are very strong they will not have a problem with an aneurysm. Because these develop over the course of years. And they're unlikely to development it. If their screening is negative. Other people who may require screening are children of people who had aneurysms or have known family history of aneurysms - Especially those of women who've had aneurysms since it is much more common in men.

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