An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a potentially life-threatening condition that might not have symptoms that you notice initially. The aneurysm may be small and slow-growing, or it could expand rapidly. The threat is when the aneurysm leaks or ruptures because you could lose a lot of blood quickly. Here's how this condition is detected and treated.
How To Know If You Have An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
You might have pain in your abdomen when the aneurysm enlarges or ruptures. You could even notice a pulse around your navel.
However, a common way to discover you have an aneurysm is when you're undergoing tests for a different condition, and the doctor spots it on an ultrasound or CT scan. An imaging test can confirm the presence of an aneurysm and measure its size and threat.
Treatments For An Abdominal Aneurysm
If the aneurysm is small, your doctor may recommend monitoring its progress rather than having vascular surgery when the condition isn't an immediate threat. However, you'll probably be instructed to change your lifestyle habits and told to stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, and start exercising. High blood pressure can affect the aneurysm, so getting healthy and controlling cardiovascular disease has a positive effect on the aneurysm and may keep it from expanding as fast.
If the aneurysm is a danger to your health, your doctor may recommend vascular surgery. One type of surgery opens up your abdomen so the damaged area can be removed and replaced with a graft.
Another type of surgery doesn't involve opening up your abdomen. Instead, the surgeon passes a stent into the damaged area to strengthen it. The stent keeps blood flow and pressure away from the vessel walls so that the risk of a rupture is much lower. Since this procedure doesn't involve large incisions, it is easier to recover from and has a lower risk of complications.
Your doctor will determine if vascular surgery is right for you and which type you need depending on the size of your abdominal aortic aneurysm, how fast it's growing, and its location. Both procedures are done as an inpatient and require a short hospital stay so that you can be monitored to ensure there are no complications after surgery.
While these procedures correct the aneurysm, your doctor will probably encourage you to adopt a healthy lifestyle and control high blood pressure going forward. You may also need periodic imaging tests to check the repaired area for leaks as part of ongoing management of your aneurysm. For more information, contact a vascular surgery clinic such as The Surgical Clinic.