Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
The aorta is the largest artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the
body and it runs from the heart through the center of the chest and
abdomen. When a weak area of the abdominal aorta expands or bulges, much
like a balloon, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
Aortic Aneurysm - Copyright© Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up inside your
arteries, is frequently associated with aneurysm. However, it is not
thought that this disease alone causes the growth of an aneurysm. It is
believed that other factors, such as high blood pressure or connective
tissue disorders, must be present for an aneurysm to form.
Factors that increase your chance of getting an aortic aneurysm include:
High blood pressure
Inherited connective tissue defects such as Marfan syndrome and
Age 60 or older
History of heart attack
Family members with aneurysms, particularly male children of an
Great vessel arteritis, also known as Takayasu’s disease
Injury to the aorta, from either a motor vehicle accident or a
Many aneurysms do not have symptoms. They are detected during a routine
physical exam or during X-ray evaluation for another disorder. Symptoms
may occur when the aneurysm grows or disrupts the wall of the aorta.
Symptoms depend on the size and location of the aneurysm and may
Pain in the abdomen or in the lower back
Constant pain occurring over hours or days
Sudden onset of severe stabbing pain
Unusual sensation of pulsing in the abdomen
Cough, shortness of breath
Coughing up blood
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical
exam will be done. Pain is the symptom that will most likely cause you
to go to the doctor. Most aortic aneurysms are discovered during a
routine physical exam. Your doctor may need pictures of your heart. This
can be done with:
Computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the abdomen
Treatments Offered at the Center for Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
The following procedures are offered for the treatment of an abdominal
aortic aneurysm depending on a patient’s diagnosis:
Open Aneurysm Repair. This surgical procedure to repair
an aortic aneurysm involves removing the portion of the aorta
that contains the aneurysm and replacing it with a mesh graft.
If the aneurysm involves important branches of the aorta, these
vessels may either be repaired or bypassed.
Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR). Depending on where
the aneurysm is located and how complex it is, an endovascular
aneurysm repair may be done. This procedure is a minimally
invasive approach and involves using a stent for the repair of
the aneurysm. A stent-graft is a polyester tube covered by a
tubular metal web. The stent-graft is inserted into the aorta.
With the stent-graft in place, blood flows through the
stent-graft instead of into the aneurysm, eliminating the chance
Endovascular Aneurysm Repair Sealing (EVARS) Clinical Trail. St.
Elizabeth’s Medical Center is the first hospital in
Massachusetts to implant the innovative EndoVascular
Aneurysm Sealing (EVAS) from Nellix™ as part of the EVAS FORWARD
investigational trial. EVAS is the next generation abdominal
aortic aneurysm (AAA) therapy intended to treat more anatomies
than currently approved endovascular stent graft devices, and is
the only technology whose operating principle is centered around
sealing the aneurysm sac.
There are no guidelines for preventing an aneurysm because the cause is
not known. However, you can reduce some of your risk factors by
following these recommendations:
Eat a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in
whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Don't smoke. If you smoke, quit.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men aged
65 to 75 who have ever smoked be screened once for abdominal
aortic aneurysm with ultrasound. This is a painless procedure
that gives a picture of the abdomen using sound waves. Early
detection of abdominal aortic aneurysm in this group has been
shown to reduce mortality from this condition.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Begin a safe exercise program with the advice of your doctor.
Seek treatment for high blood pressure, syphilis and other
If you have Marfan syndrome, see your doctor regularly for
monitoring and CT scans.
At the Center for Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, every patient meets
with one of our highly skilled,
Conditions and Treatments
Vascular disease comes in many different forms and our world class
surgeons are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide-spectrum
of vascular diseases.
Cosmetic Vein Center
St. Elizabeth’s Cosmetic Vein
Center offers both cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of varicose
veins and spider veins.
The Vascular Lab provides
many types of testing and diagnostic services to help diagnosis a
variety of vascular diseases.
Many patients who come to the Center for Vascular and Endovascular
Surgery at St. Elizabeth's have
a story to share about their care, recovery, and success after
surgery or other treatments.
Center for Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
St. Elizabeth's Medical Center
736 Cambridge Street
Brighton, MA 02135