The abdominal aorta is the largest artery (blood vessel) in your abdomen that supplies blood to your abdomen, pelvis, and extremities. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a bulging or ballooning area of the aorta that has developed over time due to pressure from the blood flowing through the abdomen.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm can be fatal when the weak point burst or ruptures causing severe bleeding and even death. Clots can also manifest from inside the aneurysm and breakoff and travel to your extremities or other parts of your body leading to stroke, embolus, and other life threatening conditions.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm can develop over several years and could be detected on a routine medical examination by your physician. If AAA is suspected a routine test, such as an X-ray or Ultrasound may be used to evaluate the exact size and location.
Should I be worried?
AAA can be safely treated and cured with early diagnosis. Nearly 200,000 people in the US are diagnosed annually. About 15,000 of these are severe enough to cause death if untreated.
Many patients with AAA do not exhibit symptoms, however, if you develop symptoms, you may experience any of the following:
- Severe abdominal or lower back pain. The pain may be felt in the groin and radiate down the buttocks into the legs
- Rapid heartbeat
- Pain and discoloration or a sore may develop in your feet from material shed (tiny clots)
- Rigid abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Clammy skin
- Abdominal duplex ultrasound
- Computerized tomography or CT scan
- Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR)
Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR)
EVAR which stands for Endovascular Aneurysm Repair is a new hybrid technique of repairing AAA involving a minimally invasive alternative to the surgical approach. The procedure is performed by a Vascular Surgeon in an angiography room using X-ray and fluoroscopic guidance. In this procedure, the vascular surgeon will insert a sheath catheter using a guidewire through one of the iliac or brachial arteries. The stent graft will then be passed through the sheath and deployed into the proper place within the abdominal aorta. The graft expands to fit snugly against the walls of the aortic artery and remains permanent.
Endovascular Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Repair
A Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm involves a weakened bulging area of the thoracic aorta in the chest area located near the heart. The repair involves similar technique as an EVAR using a minimally invasive approach. Dr. D’Souza is one of a handful of surgeons in the state of Arizona properly trained, credentialed, and qualified to perform this complex procedure.