What is an Aneurysm?
An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel that is a result of weakening in the walls of the arteries.
Types of Aneurysms
The most common type of aneurysm is found in the abdominal aorta, otherwise known as an 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 (TAA) is similar to a AAA, but the TAA 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 or 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 in the artery with the use of catheters delivered through small incisions in the groin(s).