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Aneurysm

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An aneurysm is a weakened area of an artery wall that bulges or expands. Blood vessel walls can be weakened due to illness, injury or heredity. The risk of an aneurysm rupturing increases as it grows in size. A ruptured aneurysm causes internal bleeding that can lead to other serious life-threatening complications.

There are different types of aneurysms, including:

Why Choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?

The vascular surgeons at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center have extensive experience with traditional open repair of aneurysms, including repair of complex cases. They are also expert at minimally invasive repairs, and have experience in the use of all of the available stent graft technologies available to treat a wide variety of aneurysms. Ohio State's participation in national clinical trials helps direct the development of the next generation of stent grafts for the treatment of aneurysms.

What Is an Aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge caused by the pooling of blood in a weakened blood vessel. Aneurysms commonly occur in the arteries of the:

  • Brain
  • Heart
  • Intestine
  • Leg (behind the knee)
  • Spleen

Aneurysms that occur within the body or brain usually do not cause symptoms before they rupture. However, aneurysms that occur near the skin's surface can often cause a visible mass that is painful and throbbing.

A ruptured aneurysm is very dangerous and requires immediate emergency medical care. Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pain

 

What Causes an Aneurysm?

While the exact cause is unclear, an aneurysm may be caused by multiple factors that damage the wall of a blood vessel. The weakening of a blood vessel wall can be caused by:

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Disease
  • Genetic disorder
  • Injury

Steps you can take to lower your risk of developing an aneurysm include:

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Diagnosis of Aneurysm

Aneurysms are often not accompanied by symptoms. Because of this they are usually detected during an examination for another condition. Tests to confirm the presence of an aneurysm include:

  • CT scan (computed tomography scan, also called CAT scan) – An imaging procedure that uses X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional, detailed images of the body, including bones, muscles, fat and organs.
  • Ultrasound – A test that uses high-frequency sound waves and a monitor to create images of blood vessels, tissues and organs.

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Treatment of Aneurysm

Treatment of an aneurysm depends on its size and the symptoms an individual may be experiencing. The goal is to prevent the aneurysm from ever rupturing. Medication to control high blood pressure and to lower cholesterol may be prescribed. Surgery may also be indicated.

There are generally two types of aneurysm repair surgeries:

  • Endovascular repair makes use of a catheter that guides a stent graft through small incisions in the groin. The graft is inserted into the aneurysm and seals the aneurysm from within.
  • Open surgical repair of the aneurysm may be recommended if the anatomy of the aneurysm does not allow for endovascular repair. In this procedure, the damaged area is removed and replaced with a graft.

A ruptured aneurysm is a very dangerous condition. Although it is possible to repair a ruptured aneurysm surgically, it is important to identify and treat aneurysms before a rupture occurs.

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Ohio State Medical Center Physicians Who Treat This Condition

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