Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Symptoms and Treatment

Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a pathological enlargement of the abdominal aorta which is twice the normal size of the aorta. This occurs when there is a massive increase in size of the blood vessel supplying the abdominal aorta. The most common site of occurrence of the aneurysm is below the kidneys.

Causes of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm:

The aneurysm occurs mostly in the male population over the age of 60.

The exact cause is unknown, but studies show that this aneurysm generally occurs in people having the following risk factors.

1) Smoking

2) Obesity

3) Atherosclerosis seems to be a common risk factor for this type of aneurysm.

4) A certain gene factor

5) Increased cholesterol levels.

Signs and Symptoms of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm:

The abdominal aortic aneurysm is slow in its progression over several years. The aneurysm is asymptomatic. A person might have the aneurysm if he shows the following signs.

a) A pulsating mass in the region of the abdominal aorta.

b) On examination of the abdomen, it is hard and stiff on palpation.

The aneurysm can be diagnosed with the helps of tests like a C.T scan and a ultra sound of the abdomen.

A major health complication is due to a ruptured aneurysm. This occurs due to rapid increase in size of the aneurysm.

The following are alarming signs indicating of an aneurysm rupture:

1) Severe radiating pain in the region of the abdomen, lower back and the groin area.

2) The patient may go into hypovolaemic shock and may get tachycardia.

3) There will be signs of intra abdominal and renal bleeding due to the rupture.

The mortality rate is very high in cases of an aneurysmal rupture. Majority of the patients may die due excessive bleeding.

Treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

The treatment of the aneurysm is two fold, it can be treated either conservatively or surgical repair ay be required.

The treatment protocol of these cases depends on the severity of the cases.

1) A small aneurysm can be treated conservatively with constant monitoring and routine ultra sound tests. Surgical repair if done immediately for smaller aneurysms of about 2cms in size will lessen the risk of a rupture in the future.

2) A larger aneurysm more than 5 cms in size has to be treated surgically. There are two types of approaches to treat the aneurysm surgically.

a) A surgical open repair procedure with the help of a graft that is placed in the abdomen.

b) The second type of approach is by Endovascular stent grafting. This procedure is non invasive in nature unlike the open repair. The success rates for grafting are higher.

Prognosis and prevention of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

The aneurysm if detected at an early stage and is treated immediately, the prognosis is fairly good. But if the aneurysm has ruptured already and severe bleeding has occurred the survival rate is poor.

The risk of getting these aneurysms can be avoided by maintaining a well balanced lifestyle.

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