What are aortic aneurysms?
Aortic aneurysms are abnormal ballooning sections in the aorta which is the largest blood vessel in the body.
What are the symptoms of aortic aneurysms?
Many aortic aneurysms do not cause any symptoms since they tend to grow slowly. However if the bulging section of the artery becomes large, it can cause a pulsating feeling in the abdomen which may be associated with pain. Other symptoms of aortic aneurysms which have not ruptured include pain or discomfort in the back.
If the aortic aneurysm ruptures or bursts, patients develop very severe pain in the abdomen. Other conditions of this life threatening condition which develop as a result of internal bleeding include dizziness, shortness of breath, feeling faint and losing consciousness.
What are the causes of aortic aneurysms?
An aortic aneurysm develops when the wall of the aorta becomes weakened. This weakness can be caused by diseases like atherosclerosis which develops as a result of buildup of cholesterol in the blood vessels.
High blood pressure can also place undue stress on the walls of the aorta and weaken them leading to the development of aneurysms. Diabetes is another condition which damages the blood vessels and increases the risk of aneurysms developing.
Trauma from motor vehicle accidents or falls from heights can also weaken the blood vessels and increase the chances of aneurysms developing.
How does aortic aneurysm surgery work?
An aortic aneurysm which is increasing in size quickly or is already quite large, is treated surgically with a stent and graft. In this operation, the doctor uses x-rays to guide the stent and synthetic graft into the ballooning section of the aorta. The doctor then inflates the stent to secure it together with the graft so that they can reinforce the weakened section and prevent it from rupturing.
Aortic aneurysms can also be treated surgically by replacing the weakened artery wall with a graft made of man-made materials which do not wear out. These artificial grafts are also used to patch the walls of ruptured aortic aneurysms.