An aneurysm is a ballooning or weakening of an artery wall. The process is usually caused by plaque on the inner lining of the wall. Aneurysms may also be caused by trauma or heredity. Most people are unaware that they have an aneurysm until it is found incidentally during other testing. Aneurysms usually occur in the thoracic (chest) or abdominal (belly) aorta, the main blood vessel in the body. Aneurysms can occur in other blood vessels as well.
Aneurysms are usually without symptoms. A small percentage of patients experience symptoms including back pain, abdominal pain, and chest pain.
CT Scan: A computer uses x-rays to produce pictures of the structures inside the body. Patients may need to drink a barium solution. Patients must fast for this test.
CT Angiogram: This is the most precise test for defining the anatomy of the aneurysm, including the size, diameter and proximity of the aneurysm to the kidney arteries. Images are enhanced by injecting the patient with contrast. Patients must fast for this test.
Invasive Arterial Testing
During the test an intravenous catheter is inserted into a vein in your arm. You will be given intravenous fluids and medicine to relax you.
A needle will be inserted to numb the area of the artery and then a catheter will be placed in the artery (usually the groin or arm). Dye will be injected into the artery. The procedure takes approximately one hour. After the procedure you will need to lie flat for several hours with pressure at the puncture site to prevent bleeding.
Although aneurysms may be hereditary, it is also believed that atherosclerosis plays a role in the development of aneurysms. Treatment that is strongly recommended would be changes in lifestyle, especially ones that can begin at home. Many risk factors which include: age, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and a family history. While family history and age cannot be controlled, taking control of your lifestyle can make a difference.
Minimally Invasive Treatment