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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Enlargement and ballooning of the vessel that supplies arterial blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

An aneurysm that occurs in the abdominal portion of the aorta is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Most aortic aneurysms are AAAs.

These aneurysms are found more often now than in the past because of computed tomography (to-MOG-rah-fee) scans, or CT scans, done for other medical problems.

Small AAAs rarely rupture. However, AAAs can grow very large without causing symptoms. Routine checkups and treatment for an AAA can help prevent growth and rupture....Read more about Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm [Internet]

Background Aneurysm of the abdominal aorta is common in older men. An aortic diameter of 30 millimeters, or more, is defined as an abdominal aortic aneurysm. As an aneurysm becomes larger the risk for rupture increases, often with fatal consequences. Screening to detect the condition at an early stage is one approach toward reducing mortality from abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm

An aneurysm is a localised widening (dilation) of an artery. The blood vessel can burst (rupture) because the vessel wall is weakened. Some 5% to 10% of men aged between 65 and 79 years have an abdominal aneurysm in the area of the aorta, the main artery from the heart as it passes through the abdomen. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are often asymptomatic but a rupture is a surgical emergency and often leads to death. An aneurysm larger than 5 cm carries a high risk of rupture. Smaller aneurysms are monitored regularly using ultrasound to see if they are becoming larger. Elective surgical repair of aortic aneurysms aims to prevent death from rupture. The incidence of aortic aneurysm in women as they age is lower than for men.

Cerebrospinal fluid drainage for thoracic and thoracic abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery

An aneurysm is a local bulging of a blood vessel that carries a risk of rupture. Surgery for an aortic aneurysm requires clamping the aorta, the biggest artery in the body. This reduces the supply of blood and oxygen to the spinal cord (ischaemia) and tissue damage can lead to the partial or incomplete paralysis of the lower limbs (paresis) and paraplegia (paralysis of the legs and lower part of the body). These deficits are frequently irreversible. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure increases during clamping further decreasing the perfusion pressure of the spinal cord. As more of the blood supply to the spinal cord is interrupted, the likelihood of paraplegia is increased. Various treatments are used to reduce the ischaemic insult to the spinal cord including temporary blood shunts (such as distal atriofemoral bypass and re‐connection of intercostal and lumbar vessels), pharmaceutical interventions (to protect the heart and cerebral blood vessels), epidural cooling and CSF drainage. Draining CSF from the lumbar region may lessen the CSF pressure, improve blood flow to the spinal cord and reduce the risk of ischaemic spinal cord injury.

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Summaries for consumers

Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm

An aneurysm is a localised widening (dilation) of an artery. The blood vessel can burst (rupture) because the vessel wall is weakened. Some 5% to 10% of men aged between 65 and 79 years have an abdominal aneurysm in the area of the aorta, the main artery from the heart as it passes through the abdomen. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are often asymptomatic but a rupture is a surgical emergency and often leads to death. An aneurysm larger than 5 cm carries a high risk of rupture. Smaller aneurysms are monitored regularly using ultrasound to see if they are becoming larger. Elective surgical repair of aortic aneurysms aims to prevent death from rupture. The incidence of aortic aneurysm in women as they age is lower than for men.

Cerebrospinal fluid drainage for thoracic and thoracic abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery

An aneurysm is a local bulging of a blood vessel that carries a risk of rupture. Surgery for an aortic aneurysm requires clamping the aorta, the biggest artery in the body. This reduces the supply of blood and oxygen to the spinal cord (ischaemia) and tissue damage can lead to the partial or incomplete paralysis of the lower limbs (paresis) and paraplegia (paralysis of the legs and lower part of the body). These deficits are frequently irreversible. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure increases during clamping further decreasing the perfusion pressure of the spinal cord. As more of the blood supply to the spinal cord is interrupted, the likelihood of paraplegia is increased. Various treatments are used to reduce the ischaemic insult to the spinal cord including temporary blood shunts (such as distal atriofemoral bypass and re‐connection of intercostal and lumbar vessels), pharmaceutical interventions (to protect the heart and cerebral blood vessels), epidural cooling and CSF drainage. Draining CSF from the lumbar region may lessen the CSF pressure, improve blood flow to the spinal cord and reduce the risk of ischaemic spinal cord injury.

Controlled hypotension versus normotensive resuscitation strategy for people with ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a swelling (aneurysm) of the aorta, the main blood vessel that leads away from the heart and through the abdomen to the rest of the body. It can develop in both men and women. A growing aneurysm can burst (rupture), which leads to massive blood loss and shock. It is frequently fatal and accounts for the death of at least 45 people per 100,000 population.

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Terms to know

Abdomen
The area between the chest and the hips containing the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen.
Aneurysm
Balloon-like bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. A ruptured aneurysm can lead to bleeding. Aneurysms are a result of a weakened blood vessel wall.
Aorta
The largest artery in the body. It carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to vessels that reach the rest of the body.
Arteries
A blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to tissues and organs in the body.
Pelvis
The bowl-shaped bone that supports the spine and holds up the digestive, urinary, and reproductive organs. The legs connect to the body at the pelvis.
Thorax
Having to do with the chest.

More about Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Photo of an adult

Also called: Aneurysm of the abdominal aorta, AAA

See Also: Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

Other terms to know: See all 6
Abdomen, Aneurysm, Aorta

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