Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Definition, Reason, Symptom, Treatment, Prevention

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Definition, Reason, Symptom, Treatment, Prevention

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Definition

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a condition in which there is an enlarged area at the bottom of the aorta, which is one of the main blood vessels that carries blood to all body tissues.

The aorta, a blood vessel that is about the thickness of a garden water tube, originates from the aorta and passes through the center of the chest and abdominal cavities. Because the aorta is one of the main suppliers of blood to the body’s tissues, rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding.

Depending on the size and degree of development of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, treatment for this condition can vary from observation to emergency surgery. When an abdominal aortic aneurysm is found, the doctor can perform close monitoring, so that surgery can be planned if deemed necessary.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Reason

Most aortic aneurysms occur in the part of the aorta in the abdominal cavity. Although the exact cause of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is not known, a number of factors are thought to play a role, including:

  • Smoke. Smoking and other forms of tobacco use are associated with an increased risk of aortic aneurysm. Smoking can cause damage to the aorta as well as weaken the aortic wall.
  • Hardening of the artery walls. This can occur when fat and other substances accumulate in the walls of blood vessels, which also increases the risk of an aneurysm.
  • High blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysms because it can cause damage and weakness in the aortic wall.
  • Diseases of the aortic vessels. An abdominal aortic aneurysm can also be caused by a disease that causes inflammation of the blood vessels.
  • Infection of the aorta. Infections, including infections caused by bacteria or fungi, can also cause abdominal aortic aneurysms, although they are quite rare.
  • Trauma. Trauma or injury, such as in a motor vehicle accident, can also cause an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
  • Descendants. In some cases, the abdominal aortic aneurysm may also descend.

Aneurysms can occur in any part of the aorta. However, when this occurs in the upper part of the aorta, which is located in the chest cavity, the condition is known as a thoracic aortic aneurysm. Aneurysms that occur in the lower part of the aorta are more common, and the condition is known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Some of the factors associated with an increased risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm are:

  • Age. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are most commonly observed in individuals 65 years of age or older.
  • Smoke. Smoking is one of the risk factors for the occurrence of abdominal aortic aneurysms and rupture of the aneurysm.
  • Gender. Men have a higher risk of abdominal aortic aneurysms than women.
  • Family history. Individuals who have family members with abdominal aortic aneurysms have a higher risk of developing the condition.
  • Aneurysm in another location. Individuals who have aneurysms in other large blood vessels, such as arteries located behind the knees or in the thoracic aorta, have a higher risk of developing abdominal aortic aneurysms.
  • High blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase the risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Symptoms

Abdominal aortic aneurysms generally enlarge slowly and rarely cause signs or symptoms. This is what makes it difficult to detect. Some aneurysms will not rupture. In addition, aneurysms may remain in size or increase in size over time.

As an abdominal aortic aneurysm increases in size, some individuals may feel:

  • There is a feeling of throbbing around the center
  • Persistent pain in the abdomen
  • Back pain

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Diagnosis

Abdominal aortic aneurysms are often found on examination for other complaints. For example, this condition may be first discovered when the doctor performs a physical examination and observes a pulsating bulge in the abdomen or during an investigation such as an abdominal ultrasound for other complaints.

To determine the diagnosis of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, the doctor can evaluate the medical history of the patient and family members and perform a physical examination directly. If an abdominal aortic aneurysm is suspected, several investigations can be performed, such as:

  • Ultrasound (USG) of the abdomen. This test is most often performed to diagnose an abdominal aortic aneurysm, using sound waves to produce an image of the abdomen.
  • Computerized tomography (CT). This examination can also produce clear images of the aorta, and can detect the size and shape of the aneurysm.

This examination uses X-ray waves to produce images of the body’s organs. Doctors may also inject a dye into the blood vessels to make the arteries more visible on CT images, which is known as CT angiography.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This examination can also be aimed at diagnosing the presence of an aneurysm and determining its size and location. An MRI examination uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of the body’s organs.

Doctors may also inject a dye into the blood vessels to make the blood vessels more visible on imaging, which is known as MR angiography.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Handling

The goal of treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysms is to prevent rupture of the aneurysm. Choosing the right treatment depends on many factors, including the size of the aortic aneurysm and the rate at which it grows.

Treatment options for this condition include:

  • Medical monitoring. In small abdominal aortic aneurysms that do not cause signs or symptoms, your doctor may recommend medical monitoring. Monitoring includes regular check-ups to make sure the aneurysm doesn’t get bigger as well as controlling other medical conditions that can make the aneurysm worse.

The doctor may also ask about any signs or symptoms you are experiencing, which may be related to an aneurysm. In addition, imaging tests can also be performed routinely to evaluate the size of the aneurysm.

  • Surgery. In patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms, surgery may be the treatment of choice if the size of the aneurysm is large.

Doctors may also recommend surgery if the growth of the aneurysm is rapid. In addition, doctors can also provide treatment if the patient experiences symptoms such as abdominal pain or if there is a leak in the aneurysm.

Surgical options can be open abdominal surgery, or open abdominal surgery, in which the damaged portion of the aorta is removed and replaced with a graft, or endovascular surgery, which is a minimally invasive procedure in which a catheter is inserted through an artery in the thigh directed toward the aorta and then followed by grafting.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Prevention

Because the cause of abdominal aortic aneurysms is not known with certainty, there is no proven effective way to completely prevent the occurrence of abdominal aortic aneurysms. However, in men aged between 65–75 years with a history of previous smoking, it is advisable to perform a screening examination for the presence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm using abdominal ultrasound.

In elderly men who have a family member with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, routine screening may be considered. What is an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm? UofUHealth video below:

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