An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel that results from weakening of the blood vessel. The most common aneurysm is in the abdominal aorta, known as Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, or AAA for short. AAA has a tendency to run in families, and also develops in smokers and sometimes in non-smokers. AAA is a life-threatening disorder – if the weakened aorta ruptures or leaks, this can lead to death. Treatment is designed to prevent this from happening, and can also be performed emergently if an unsuspected aneurysm begins to leak.
Other forms of aneurysm include popliteal aneurysm and thoracic aortic aneurysm. A popliteal aneurysm is a bulge of the main artery behind the knee, and can cause clots to block flow to the lower leg.
Thoracic aortic aneurysm is similar to AAA, but occurs in the part of the aorta that is in the chest. A thoracoabdominal aneurysm involves both TAA and AAA.
There are two basic approaches to treating aneurysms – open surgery and endovascular stenting. During an open surgery, the surgeon opens the patient’s body and repairs the aneurysm, often by placing a new graft inside the diseased artery. Endovascular stenting is a procedure where a similar graft is placed within the artery, but is placed there with the use of catheters delivered through small incisions in the groins.
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