An aneurysm is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of a blood vessel resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning greater than 50 percent of the normal diameter. An aneurysm may occur in any blood vessel, but is most often seen in an artery rather than a vein.
An aneurysm may be located in many areas of the body, such as blood vessels of the brain, the aorta (the largest artery in the body), the intestines, the kidney, the spleen, and the vessels in the legs. The most common location of an aneurysm is the aorta, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the body.
Because an aneurysm may continue to increase in size, along with progressive weakening of the artery wall, surgical intervention may be needed. Preventing rupture of an aneurysm is one of the goals of therapy. The larger an aneurysm becomes, the greater the risk of rupture (bursting). With rupture, life-threatening hemorrhage (uncontrolled bleeding) and possibly death may result.
Symptoms associated with aneurysms depend upon the location of the aneurysm in the body. The symptoms may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Symptoms that may occur with different types of aneurysms may include the following:
|Type of Aneurysm||Symptoms Associated with Aneurysm Type|
|Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)||Constant pain in abdomen, chest, lower back, or groin area|
|Cerebral Aneurysm||Sudden severe headache, nausea, vomiting, visual disturbance, loss of consciousness|
|Common Iliac Aneurysm||Lower abdominal, back, and/or groin pain|
|Femoral and Popliteal Artery Aneurysm||Easily palpated (felt) pulsation of the artery located in the groin area (femoral artery) or on the back of the knee (popliteal artery)|
At UT Southwestern, your physician may request one or a combination of the following diagnostic procedures, in addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, to diagnose an aneurysm.
At UT Southwestern, treatment options for an aneurysm may include one or more of the following: