Aortic Aneurysm Treatment
An aortic aneurysm is a bulge in a section of the aorta which is the body’s main artery. The enlargement which happens is 1.5 times greater than normal size. It causes weakness in the wall of the aorta and increases the risk of aortic rupture. This rupture leads to internal bleeding and when left untreated can also prove to be fatal.
There are two locations of aortic aneurysms –
1. Thoracic aortic aneurysm – They are found in the upper body such as chest. Genes play a role in having thoracic aortic aneurysm. Conditions that people are born with, that can affect the aorta are bicuspid aortic valve, marfan syndrome and Loeys –Dietz syndrome. Some of the causes of thoracic aortic aneurysm are –
a. Increase in blood pressure.
c. Plaque buildup in the arteries.
d. High cholesterol.
e. Sudden traumatic injuries.
The symptoms do not start to show up until the aneurysm grows large. Some of the symptoms are –
a. Pain in chest or back.
c. Shortness of breath.
d. Difficulty in breathing.
f. Swallowing food becomes tough.
A thoracic aortic aneurysm is diagnosed with the help of tests such as X-ray, an echocardiogram, Ct scan or an ultrasound.
2. Abdominal aortic aneurysm – It is the most common form of aneurysm which involves the segment of the aorta within the abdominal cavity. They are more common than thoracic ones. The risk of AAA is related to its diameter and shape. There are different causes which are not obvious but play a role in causing AAA. Some of them are –
a. Atherosclerosis which is the hardening of the arteries.
c. High blood pressure.
d. Genetic predisposition.
Just like thoracic aortic aneurysm, AAA also comes with its set of symptoms –
a. Throbbing sensation near the navel.
b. Deep pain on the side of the abdomen.
c. Back pain.
d. Feeling of dizziness or sweat accumulation.
e. Stomach pain.
Surgery for aortic aneurysm is suggested if it is about 1.9 to 2.2 inches or larger. Surgery is also suggested if your aneurysm is growing quickly. There are two different types of surgeries which are recommended –
1. Open abdominal surgery – This surgery is done to treat abdominal aortic aneurysm. The abdomen is open for the doctor to see and work on the aorta. It is considered as the traditional method of repair. In this procedure, a large cut is made in the belly or the abdomen. Clamps are put on the aorta to stop the blood flow. The aneurysm is removed and then the graft is attached to the aorta. Clamps are removed to restart the blood flowing process.
2. Endovascular surgery – It is a less invasive and more preferred procedure to repair an aneurysm. A synthetic graft is attached to the end of a thin tube that is inserted through an artery in the leg. It is placed at the site of the aneurysm and expanded. The graft reinforces the weakened section of the aorta to prevent rupture of the aneurysm. Recovery time is short and regular follow up tests are required to see that the grafts are not leaking.
Men over 65 years of age with history of smoking are considered as potential risk factors. Other factors include hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease etc.
It is often discovered during an X-ray, ultrasound or echocardiogram. It can also be detected during a routine physical exam.
There are two options in the form of open repair surgery and endovascular repair.
To slow the growth rate of an aortic aneurysm, beta blockers are given. If you have high cholesterol which can cause aortic aneurysm, medicines such as statin is given.