Abdominal aortic aneurysm

Alternative Names

Aneurysm – aortic; AAA

Definition of Abdominal aortic aneurysm

An abdominal aortic is when the large blood vessel that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs becomes abnormally large or balloons outward.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The exact cause is unknown, but risk factors for developing an aortic aneurysm include:

Symptoms

Aneurysms develop slowly over many years and often have no symptoms. If an aneurysm expands rapidly, tears open (ruptured aneurysm), or blood leaks along the wall of the vessel (aortic dissection), symptoms may develop suddenly.

Signs and tests

Your doctor will examine your abdomen. The exam also will include an evaluation of pulses and sensation in your legs. The doctor may find:

Treatment

If you have bleeding inside your body from an aortic aneurysm, you will have open abdominal aortic aneurysm repair.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome is usually good if an experienced surgeon repairs the aneurysm before it ruptures. However, less than 40% of patients survive a ruptured abdominal aneurysm.

Review

James Lee, MD, Department of Surgery, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/21/2009

Aortic rupture, chest X-ray
Aortic aneurysm

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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