Shire Vascular Services

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Arterial Aneurysms

Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. With age, the walls of arteries can become weak, and cause the artery to swell, forming an aneurysm. Aneurysms can affect any artery in the body, but most aneurysms affect the aorta in the abdomen. Less commonly aneurysms affect the aorta in the chest, or the arteries in the legs, and rarely do they affect other arteries.

Risk Factors:

  • Gender – men are more likely to be affected than women
  • Age – aneurysms rarely affect patients less than 55 years of age, unless they have a connective tissue disease
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Genetics – aneurysms may run in families

Having an aneurysm in one location in the body may predispose you to aneurysms in other areas of the body.

Symptoms:

Most aneurysms do not cause symptoms. Most are diagnosed incidentally during tests for other medical conditions. Sometimes aneurysms in the abdomen may cause symptoms such as:

  • Aching in the abdomen or back
  • Discomfort after eating
  • A pulsing sensation in the abdomen

Aneurysms in the chest may cause symptoms such as:

  • Aching in the back or chest
  • Hoarse voice
  • Dry cough

Investigations:

In order to diagnose, monitor or treat your aneurysm you may require a test such as:

  • Duplex Ultrasound
  • Computed Tomographic Angiogram (CTA)
  • Catheter Angiogram

Treatment:

The decision on when to treat your aneurysm depends on its location, its size, its cause and the severity of other medical conditions you may have.

The aneurysm may be monitored over time to look for enlargement, particularly if it is small at the time of diagnosis.

If the aneurysm requires treatment, it can be treated with open surgery or a stent graft. The decision on which modality is best for you will be discussed with you after review of your history, physical examination and test results.