My father has been diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm while having a routine CT scan. What exactly is an aneurysm?
An aneurysm is a bubble in the wall of an artery anywhere in the body caused by weakened walls of blood vessels. The abdominal aorta, (the main artery in your body) as in your father’s case, is a main site of these bulges. As these bulges get larger, there is a greater chance of them rupturing (popping) and when that occurs there is a greater chance of complications.
Are the any risk factors?
The most common risk factor is smoking as well as high blood pressure, heart disease and lung disease.
What is the treatment of this aneurysm?
Treatment is based on size and location in the aorta. Most of the time, aneurysms in this area can be treated with stents through tiny incisions in the groin. This procedure can have you home the very next day. However, there are instances where more advanced surgery is necessary. Traditional open surgery is needed in about 5%-10% of all cases, however new technologies are being evolved to use less invasive techniques in these circumstances. These new technologies (fenestrated grafts) are being offered in select centers, such as ours, in the country.
What should he do now?
Your father should see a vascular surgeon, particularly one who is able to perform both minimally invasive surgery as well as traditional open surgery in order to provide the ideal treatment plan. One of the most important factors in having a good outcome is being treated at a hospital where a dedicated team works together in order to treat complex aortic issues. These centers of excellence have years of experience with individuals with different roles working together as a team to provide the ideal environment to fixing your aneurysm.
Do my family and I have anything to be concerned about? Is this hereditary?
That is a great question and yes, first degree relatives of patients diagnosed with aneurysms should be checked for aneurysms as well, beginning at the age of 50 because aneurysms can be hereditary.
To schedule an appointment for you or a family member with a Cooper Vascular Surgeon please call 856.342.2151.