Aorta is the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood and runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen. Aneurysm is a bulge or “ballooning” in the wall of the aorta. An aneurysm can burst if it becomes very large and can result in dangerous bleeding or even death.
What are the Types of Aortic Aneurysm?
Aortic aneurysm is of two types:
- Thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA): The bulge in the part of the aorta running through the chest is termed as the thoracic aortic aneurysm.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA): The bulge in the part of the aorta running through the abdomen is termed as the abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Symptoms of Aortic Aneurysm:
Both thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysm may not show any symptoms until the aneurysm becomes large, or bursts. But following symptoms may occur in respective aneurysms:
Thoracic aortic aneurysm:
- Chest or back pain
- Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
- Shortness of breath
Abdominal aortic aneurysm:
- Pain in the back, abdomen, or groin is not relieved with position change or pain medication
- Pulsating enlargement or tender mass in abdomen
- A deep pain on the sides of the abdomen
- A throbbing sensation near the navel
How is it Diagnosed?
In most of the cases, aneurysm is found during regular exams and tests such as an X-ray, an echocardiogram, CT scan, or ultrasound. But patients with the following conditions must undergo regular screening for aneurysm:
- Family history of aneurysm
- High blood pressure
- Plaque build-up in arteries (atherosclerosis)
- High cholesterol
- Sudden traumatic injury
Treatment of Aortic Aneurysm
Aortic enlargement treatment depends upon several factors, like location, size and shape of the aneurysm as well as the physical condition of the patient.
Open aneurysm repair: This involves surgical opening of the chest/abdomen to repair the aneurysm. The surgery is done under local anesthesia and uses a man-made tube (called a graft) to replace the weak and bulging section of the aorta in the abdomen.
Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) or Endovascular stent graft: It is a minimally invasive procedure that repairs the aneurysm through small incisions using thin flexible tubes, called catheters. A stent graft is inserted through another artery until it reaches the aorta. Once it reaches the aorta, the graft is expanded and attached to the aorta. This allows the blood to pass through the graft without pushing on the aneurysm.