Understanding Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

Because abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) can develop slowly over time, they’re often difficult to detect until they rupture and require urgent medical care. There are symptoms you can watch for, however, that may alert you to the possibility. As is the case with many medical issues, early detection often offers the best treatment outcome.

Dr. Farouk Marzouk is a board-certified vascular surgeon and vein specialist who leads the team at Frontier Medical Care in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn in New York City. He’s highly respected for his skill in diagnosing and effectively treating conditions related to your arteries and veins, including AAA.

Dr. Marzouk is happy to provide insight regarding AAA and how it’s treated.

What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a weakened area in the wall of an artery that creates a bulge or distension in the blood vessel. Problems occur when the aneurysm grows too large. When this occurs, much like an overfilled balloon, the weakened area may stretch to the point of bursting or rupturing.

In the case of an AAA, the aneurysm affects the aorta. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in your body and travels from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen.

Many AAAs never enlarge, while others grow very slowly over time. Some, however, balloon rapidly and can eventually rupture. A rupture in the aorta can cause life-threatening internal bleeding that requires immediate medical care.

Other complications associated with AAA include clots that can restrict vital blood flow to your legs, kidneys, pelvic region and abdominal organs.

What causes an AAA?

Several conditions can damage your arteries and cause an AAA. These include:

 Risk factors that may increase your risk of developing an AAA include:

A history of aneurysm in another location, such as the popliteal artery that runs behind your knee, can also signal the potential of developing AAA.

Symptoms of an enlarging AAA can include pain in your abdomen or side, back pain, and a noticeable pulse near your belly button.

Because the early symptoms of AAA are often very subtle or confused with other issues, identifying your risk factors can help with early detection and treatment.

What is the treatment for AAA?

At Frontier Medical Care, we screen for AAAs with imaging studies like abdominal ultrasounds and CT scans. These painless tests can identify the size and shape of the AAA and help Dr. Marzouk develop an effective treatment strategy.

If the AAA is small, Dr. Marzouk may recommend watchful waiting and follow-up imaging studies to monitor the growth of the aneurysm.

Otherwise, if you have an enlarging or “leaky” aneurysm, he may recommend endovascular repair. This minimally invasive procedure involves applying surgical mesh (synthetic graft) over the weakened area to strengthen the vein wall.

The graft is delivered and attached via a thin tube (catheter) that’s inserted into an artery, typically in your leg, and threaded through the artery to the targeted area in your aorta. Whenever possible, this method is generally much preferred over traditional or open surgery that requires long and deep incisions to reveal and repair the damaged artery.

Schedule a visit at Frontier Medical Care today for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for AAA. Call the office or book your appointment online.

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