Learn About Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

What is the definition of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?

The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs. An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when an area of the aorta becomes very large or balloons out.

Aortic aneurysm
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What are the alternative names for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?

Aneurysm - aortic; AAA

What are the causes of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?

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:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Male sex
  • Genetic factors

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is most often seen in males over age 60 who have one or more risk factors. The larger the aneurysm, the more likely it is to break open or tear. This can be life threatening.

What are the symptoms of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?

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:

  • Pain in the abdomen or back. The pain may be severe, sudden, persistent, or constant. It may spread to the groin, buttocks, or legs.
  • Passing out.
  • Clammy skin.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Shock.
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What are the current treatments for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?

If you have bleeding inside your body from an aortic aneurysm, you will need surgery right away.

If the aneurysm is small and there are no symptoms:

  • Surgery is rarely done.
  • You and your provider must decide if the risk of having surgery is smaller than the risk of bleeding if you do not have surgery.
  • Your provider may want to check the size of the aneurysm with ultrasound tests every 6 months.

Most of the time, surgery is done if the aneurysm is bigger than 2 inches (5 centimeters) across or growing quickly. The goal is to do surgery before complications develop.

There are two types of surgery:

  • Open repair - A large cut is made in your abdomen. The abnormal vessel is replaced with a graft made of man-made material.
  • Endovascular stent grafting - This procedure can be done without making a large cut in your abdomen, so you may recover more quickly. This may be a safer approach if you have certain other medical problems or are an older adult. Endovascular repair can sometimes be done for a leaking or bleeding aneurysm.
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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?

The outcome is often good if you have surgery to repair the aneurysm before it ruptures.

When an abdominal aortic aneurysm begins to tear or ruptures, it is a medical emergency. Only about 1 in 5 people survive a ruptured abdominal aneurysm.

When should I contact a medical professional for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?

Go to the emergency room or call 911 if you have pain in your belly or back that is very bad or does not go away.

How do I prevent Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?

To reduce the risk of aneurysms:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise, stop smoking (if you smoke), and reduce stress.
  • If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, take your medicines as your provider has told you.

People over age 65 who have ever smoked should have a screening ultrasound done once.

Aortic rupture - chest X-ray
What are the latest Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Clinical Trials?
Safety and Efficacy Study of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Stent Graft System for Infrarenal Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: A Prospective, Multi-center, Objective Performance Criteria Clinical Trial
Summary: A prospective, multi-centre, objective performance criteria clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Stent Graft System manufactured by Lifetech Scientific (Shenzhen) Co., LTD. for the infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysm.
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A Phase II Clinical Study of the Safety and Performance of the Treovance Stent-Graft With Navitel Delivery System for Patients With Infrarenal Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
Summary: The purpose of this clinical trial is to assess and evaluate the safety and efficacy of the Treovance Stent-Graft with Navitel Delivery System in subjects with Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA).
What are the Latest Advances for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?
Early and Midterm Results after Endovascular Repair of Non-infected Saccular Lesions of the Infrarenal Aorta.
Summary: Early and Midterm Results after Endovascular Repair of Non-infected Saccular Lesions of the Infrarenal Aorta.
Stanford Type A Acute Aortic Dissection with Leg Ischemia and Visceral Ischemia.
Summary: Stanford Type A Acute Aortic Dissection with Leg Ischemia and Visceral Ischemia.
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Long-term Outcomes Associated With Open vs Endovascular Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair in a Medicare-Matched Database.
Summary: Long-term Outcomes Associated With Open vs Endovascular Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair in a Medicare-Matched Database.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: July 12, 2021
Published By: Deepak Sudheendra, MD, RPVI, FSIR, Director of DVT & Complex Venous Disease Program, Assistant Professor of Interventional Radiology & Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, with an expertise in Vascular Interventional Radiology & Surgical Critical Care, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Braverman AC, Schermerhorn M. Diseases of the aorta. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Bhatt DL, Solomon SD eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 42.

Colwell CB, Fox CJ. Abdominal aortic aneurysm. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 76.

LeFevre ML; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(4):281-290. PMID: 24957320 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24957320/.

Woo EY, Damrauer SM. Abdominal aortic aneurysms: open surgical treatment. In: Sidawy AN, Perler BA, eds. Rutherford's Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 71.