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, the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body. The aorta, about the thickness of a garden hose, runs from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen. Because the aorta is the body's main supplier of blood, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding. Although you may never have symptoms, finding out you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm can be frightening. Most small and slow-growing abdominal aortic aneurysms don't rupture, but large, fast-growing abdominal aortic aneurysms may. Depending on the size and rate at which the aortic aneurysm is growing, treatment may vary from watchful waiting to emergency surgery. Once an abdominal aortic aneurysm is found, doctors will closely monitor it so that surgery can be planned if it's necessary. Emergency surgery for a ruptured abdominal aneurysm can be risky. Anatomy The abdominal aorta maintains 3 distinct tissue layers, an intima, media, and adventitia. The intima is composed of the classic endothelial layer. The media contains vascular smooth muscle and matrix proteins, elastin, and collagen. The diameter of the aorta decreases in size from its thoracic portion to the abdominal and infrarenal portions. A normal aorta shows a reduction in medial elastin layers from the thoracic area to the abdominal portion. Elastin and collagen content are also reduced. Aneurysms represent a dilatation in all layers of the vessel wall. The shape of the aneurysm can be described as saccular or fusiform, although this description represents a continuum. Aneurysm diameter is an important risk factor for rupture. The important surgical and endovascular anatomic considerations include associated renal and visceral artery involvement (either occlusive disease or involved in the aneurysm process) and the iliac artery (either occlusive disease or aneurysms). The length of the infrarenal aortic neck is important in helping determine the surgical approach (retroperitoneal vs transabdominal) and the location of the aortic cross clamp. Hypogastric artery (internal iliac) outflow is important in planning surgical repair. Loss of blood flow from the hypogastric artery may result in impotence in males and sigmoid colon ischemia with necrosis. Inflammatory aneurysms represent a subsegment of AAA and are characterized by a thick inflammatory peal. These aneurysms are associated with retroperitoneal fibrosis and adhesion of the duodenum and fibrosis (see the image below). 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"). Symptoms Abdominal aortic aneurysms often grow slowly and usually without symptoms, making them difficult to detect. Some aneurysms will never rupture. Many start small and stay small, although many expand over time. Some aortic aneurysms enlarge slowly, increasing less than half an inch (1.2 centimeters) a year. Others expand at a faster rate, which increases the risk of rupture. How quickly an aortic aneurysm may enlarge is difficult to predict. As an aortic aneurysm enlarges, some people may notice: A pulsating feeling near the navel Tenderness or pain in the abdomen or chest Back pain
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 are the thoracic and abdominal aorta? The aorta is first called the thoracic aorta as it leaves the heart, ascends, arches, and descends through the chest until it reaches the diaphragm (the partition between the thorax and abdomen). The aorta is then called the abdominal aorta after it has passed the diaphragm and continues down the abdomen. The abdominal aorta ends where it splits to form the two iliac arteries that go to the legs. Where do aortic aneurysms tend to develop? Aortic aneurysms can develop anywhere along the length of the aorta. The majority, however, are located along the abdominal aorta. Most (about 90%) of abdominal aneurysms are located below the level of the renal arteries, the vessels that leave the aorta to go to the kidneys. About two-thirds of abdominal aneurysms are not limited to just the aorta but extend from the aorta into one or both of the iliac arteries. What shape are most aortic aneurysms? Most aortic aneurysms are fusiform. They are shaped like a spindle ("fusus" means spindle in Latin) with widening all around the circumference of the aorta. (Saccular aneurysms just involve a portion of the aortic wall with a localized out pocketing). Who is most likely to have an abdominal aortic aneurysm? Aortic aneurysms are most common after 60 years of age. Males are five times more likely than females to be affected. Approximately 5% of men over age 60 develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm. What are risk factors for aortic aneurysms? Risk factors for aortic aneurysm include: y Cigarette smoking: cigarette smoking not only increases the risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm, the chance of aneurysm rupture (a life-threatening complication of abdominal aneurysm) is also more common among active smokers. High blood pressure High serum cholesterol Diabetes mellitus
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What is the most common cause of aortic aneurysms? The most common cause of aortic aneurysms is "hardening of the arteries" calledarteriosclerosis. At least 80% of aortic aneurysms are from arteriosclerosis. The arteriosclerosis can weaken the aortic wall and the pressure of the blood being pumped through the aorta causes expansion at the site of weakness. What are other causes of aortic aneurysms? Other causes of aortic aneurysms include: y Genetic/hereditary: There is a familial tendency to developing abdominal aortic aneurysms. Individuals with first-degree relatives having abdominal aortic aneurysms have a higher risk of developing abdominal aortic aneurysm than the general population. They also tend to develop the aneurysms at younger ages and have a higher tendency to suffer aneurysm rupture than individuals without family history.
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This carries some risk including allergic reaction to the dye and irritation of the kidneys. An aortogram. Aortic aneurysms are typically spindle-shaped and involve the aorta below the arteries to the kidneys. Abdominal aortic aneurysms often do not cause symptoms. and heart valve surgery. abdomen. The most common cause of an aneurysm is arteriosclerosis. Post-trauma: After physical trauma to the aorta. and relapsing polychondritis. historically was the diagnostic test of choice. Both computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are effective for diagnosis. Rupture of an aortic aneurysm is a catastrophe. It is highly lethal and is usually preceded by excruciating pain in the lower abdomen and back. Ultrasonography usually gives a clear picture of the size of an aneurysm. In patients with kidney diseases. This minimally invasive procedure that allows the grafts (stent) to be guided within the blood vessel itself to the site of the aneurysm without the need to cut open the y y y .S. But ultrasound cannot accurately define the extent of the aneurysm and is inadequate for surgical repair planning. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are the 13th leading cause of death in the U. which block adrenaline receptors and lower pressure within the blood vessel. X-rays of the abdomen show calcium deposits in the aneurysm wall. A less invasive procedure for aortic aneurysm is endovascular surgery. Infection of aneurysms can occur from turbulent blood flow from the rough inner surface of the affected aorta. Toprol XL). Though the post-operative course is shorter. What tests help in the diagnosis of an abdominal aortic aneurysm? In about 90% of the cases. with tenderness of the aneurysm. Rupture of an abdominal aneurysm is a catastrophe. Computerized tomography of the abdomen. Traditionally. where dye is directly injected into the aorta to assess its anatomy. How are abdominal aortic aneurysms repaired? The goal of surgical treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm is to prevent aneurysm rupture. like propanolol(Inderal). computerized tomography uses high doses of radiation and for evaluation of blood vessels. they may cause deep boring pain in the lower back or abnormally prominent abdominal pulsation. Five percent of men over 60 develop an abdominal aortic aneurysms. This clot fragment can lodge in a smaller artery and block the flow of blood. What is the medical management (non-surgical management) of abdominal aortic aneurysm? For patients who are not surgical candidates (for example for patients with aneurysm smaller than 5 cm). Not all aneurysms can be fixed in this manner and there may not be a long-term benefit to this type of surgery. Presently. The operation consists of opening the abdomen. the doctor may consider anMRA (magnetic resonance angiography). medical treatment to prevent aneurysm expansion and rupture include: y Stopping cigarette smoking y Controlling high blood pressure y Lowering high blood cholesterol y Some doctors may consider medications called beta blockers. repair of aortic aneurysms has been surgical. y Close monitoring of the aneurysm size with ultrasound or CT scan every 6 to 12 months (sooner in high risk patients) Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm At A Glance y y y y y y An aneurysm is an abnormal area of localized widening of a blood vessel. What are the complications with an abdominal aortic aneurysm? Rupture is a feared problem. Peripheral embolization of clot within the aneurysm can occur when a piece of clot comes loose and travels further out in the arterial system. syphilis. and its relation to the renal arteries. A synthetic Dacron tube that replaces the removed piece of aorta is sewn into place. atenolol (Tenormin). Rupture of an abdominal aneurysm causes profuse bleeding and leads to shock. there is a need for closer follow-up and testing. The aorta bulges at the site of an aneurysm like a weak spot on a worn tire. IV drug abuse. is highly accurate in determining the size and extent of the aneurysm. However. giant cell arteritis. Ultrasound has about 98% accuracy in measuring the size of the aneurysm. Half of all persons with untreated abdominal aortic aneurysms die of rupture within five years.y y y y Genetic disease: There are also rare inheritable genetic diseases of connective tissue (tissue that make up the wall of the aorta) such asEhlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan's syndrome that can lead to the development of aortic aneurysms. Repair of the aneurysm can be done by surgery or endovascular stenting. Death may rapidly follow. it's indications may be limited to use when surgery or stenting is considered. ormetoprolol (Lopressor. and is safe and noninvasive. But plain x-rays of the abdomen cannot determine the size and the extent of the aneurysm. finding the aorta and removing (excising) the aneurysm. X-rays of the abdomen and other radiologic tests can be used in diagnosing an aneurysm. which is a study of the aorta and the other arteries using MRI scanning. If they do. requires intravenous dye. Arteritis: Inflammation of blood vessels as occurs in Takayasu disease. Mycotic (fungal) infection: A mycotic infection that may be associated with immunodeficiency.
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