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AAA/Iliac Artery Aneurysm

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

What is a AAA?

An enlarged area in the lower part of the aorta (major vessel supplying blood to the body). Over time the vessel wall can lose its elasticity, or ability to maintain its original shape. If this grows large, it can lead to rupture, which can cause life-threatening bleeding.

What are the Symptoms?

Often no noticeable symptoms. These aneurysms often grow slowly. If they become large, you may notice pulsing near the belly button. If rupture occurs, you may notice back pain or deep abdominal pain.

What are the Causes?

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which occurs when cholesterol plaque and fat build up on the lining of the vessel.
  • High blood pressure which can weaken the aorta’s wall.
  • Trauma

What are the Risk Factors?

  • Tobacco use – smoking weakens the walls of the aorta.
  • Age – occurs most often in people 65 and older.
  • Gender – men develop more often than women.
  • Family history – AAA is familial and can increase the risk of aneurysm.
  • Race – Caucasian is at higher risk for aneurysm.

How is it Diagnosed?

  • Abdominal ultrasound – most common test
  • Abdominal CT scan – can give a precise size and shape

What are the Treatment Options?

Surgery is recommended if the aneurysm reaches 5.5 cm for men and 5.0 cm for women or has demonstrated rapid growth over a period of time.

Medical monitoring

Annual ultrasound to follow the size of the aneurysm is recommended for aneurysms smaller than 5cm.

Open AAA repair

Making an incision in the abdomen, the diseased portion of the aorta is removed and replaced with a graft which is sewn in.

Endovascular repair of AAA

Most common type of repair. Performed percutaneously (through a needle stick in the groin) or small incision. A stent graft is placed through a catheter inside the diseased vessel to provide alternate channel for blood flow. This is done under x-ray.

Iliac Artery Aneurysm

What is an Iliac Artery Aneurysm?

A weakness or bulging in the iliac artery, which is located in the pelvis. If it becomes too large, it is at risk of rupturing, causing life threatening bleeding.

What are the Symptoms?

Often no noticeable symptoms. Sometimes you may experience lower abdominal pain, back pain, or hip pain.

What are the Causes?

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Infection
  • Trauma (hip or low back surgery)

What are the Risk Factors?

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Male gender
  • Over the age of 60
  • Genetic disorders

How is it Diagnosed?

  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Angiography

What are the Treatment Options?

Medical monitoring – ultrasound or CT scan to monitor the size of the aneurysm.

Lifestyle changes

  • Quitting smoking
  • Keeping cholesterol well-controlled
  • Keeping blood pressure well-controlled

Surgery
Performed percutaneously (through a needle placed through a catheter into the aneurysm to provide alternate channel for blood flow. This is done under x-ray.