Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

aaapicWhat is an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)?

An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm is a localized dilatation of the abdominal aorta, that exceeds the normal diameter by more than 50% (the normal diameter of the abdominal aorta is 2 cm). The change in size is caused by a degenerative process of the aortic wall. It is most commonly located below the kidneys, other possible locations are above or at the level of the kidneys (suprarenal and pararenal). The aneurysm can extend to include one or both of the iliac arteries. An aortic aneurysm may also occur in the thorax.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs most commonly in individuals between 65 and 75, and more in men and smokers. The majority of abdominal aortic aneurysms do not cause symptoms. Symptomatic and large aneurysms (>5.5 cm in diameter) are considered for repair.

The most important complication of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is rupture, which is most often a fatal event. An abdominal aortic aneurysm weakens the walls of the blood vessel, leaving it vulnerable to bursting open, or rupturing, and spilling large amounts of blood into the abdominal cavity, leading to only minutes of life remaining.

Diagnostic Methods

Abdominal aortic aneurysms that are not causing symptoms are most often found when a physician is performing an imaging test, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, for another condition. The following tests can detect AAA: physical exam, palpation and auscultation, abdominal ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan (most accurate test to determine size and location), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and arteriogram.

AAA Treatment Methods

The best treatment for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) depends on a number of factors, including the size and location of the aneurysm, whether or not it is causing symptoms, and the age and general health of the patient.

AAA Screening Medicare Benefit

Medicare is offering a one-time, free screening for AAA to qualified seniors as part of its Welcome to Medicare physical. This physical must be conducted within the first six months of enrollment in Medicare. Men who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes during their life, and men and women with a family history of AAA qualify for the Medicare screening.

The Sherman Heart and Vascular Center has an outstading staff of Cardiovascual Surgeons. With over three decades of experience, nearly 50 cardiac specialty physicians, and over 12,000 open heart surgeries performed, we are in the position to give you great advice and offer wonderful services. We offer a wide variety of  heart care procedures, one of the many reasons why Sherman Health Regional Heart Center is a wise choice when it comes to your heart needs.

About Sherman Health

Sherman Health has provided medical care to Northern IL since 1888, and is currently home to a network of over 600 physicians. The Sherman blogs are edited by me, Luke. Questions? Comments? Links? Email address is luke at shermanhealth dot com.
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