Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

The aorta is the largest artery in the body and it originates from the heart, sending blood to other organs in the body. The aorta starts in the center of the heart, travels up to the top of the chest, curves to the back so it is adjacent to the spine in the chest cavity, moves into the abdomen, and then splits to support the organs in the pelvic cavity and the two legs. The aorta is like the main pipe that sends blood to important parts of the body like the heart, brain, spinal cord, arms, legs, and organs in the abdomen, including the liver, kidneys, and intestines. Thus, any problems with the aorta affects many other parts of the body and injury to the aorta can lead to death.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge or ballooning in the part of the aorta that runs through the abdomen. It usually occurs when the wall of the aorta is harder than normal due to atherosclerosis, a build-up of plaque in the artery walls. When atherosclerosis is mild or severe in an artery, it can weaken the walls of that artery, leading to an aneurysm.

  • Deterioration or damage to the walls of the artery, commonly found in the elderly and those with high blood pressure
  • Bacterial or fungal infection of the arterial wall, such as in syphilis
  • Inflammation of the artery due to autoimmune disease
  • Smoking
  • Heredity, family history
  • A palpable mass in the abdomen that pulses
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Persistent back pain
Open abdominal surgery is the standard treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysm. The procedure is done using general anesthesia and takes approximately 2-4 hours. An incision is made in the abdomen or in the side of the body to access the aorta at the point of the aneurysm. The affected section will be removed and a vascular graft will be used to connect the ends. The graft is made from synthetic material and used in place of the blood vessel. This graft is permanent and lasts a very long time.

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