An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, or AAA, is a weakening and bulging of the aorta, the largest artery in the body and the body’s main supplier of blood. If the aneurysm grows to a large size, it can spontaneously rupture, leading to profuse bleeding, shock, and even death. AAAs usually grow slowly, and often have no symptoms. Some never rupture. Those that do, however, are usually life-threatening.
The exact cause of an aneurysm is unknown. It occurs due to weakness in the wall of the artery. Factors that can increase your risk of having this problem include:
Aneurysms can develop slowly over many years, often with no symptoms. Symptoms may come on quickly if the aneurysm expands rapidly, tears open or leaks blood within the wall of the vessel (aortic dissection).
Symptoms of rupture include:
With almost no warning signs, an AAA is often difficult to detect, but preventive screening exams could literally mean the difference between life and death for some people. A routine five-minute ultrasound can indicate the presence of an AAA, making this one of the most preventable, but neglected, conditions to be diagnosed and treated.
Your physician will examine your abdomen and feel the pulses in your legs. The provider may find:
Your Deborah Specialty Physician may find this problem by doing the following tests:
You may have an abdominal aortic aneurysm that is not causing any symptoms. Your provider may order an ultrasound of the abdomen to screen for an aneurysm if you meet the following criteria: