Aneurysmal disease

Atherosclerosis causes weakening of the arterial wall. Due to the high pressures generated in the arterial system, this weakening can lead to dilatation of the vessel. Once the diameter of the vessel has increased by more than 50%, there is an aneurysm. Aneurysms can occur in any artery, but most commonly occurs in the abdominal aorta and the major blood vessels supplying the legs, the iliac arteries. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are mostly asymptomatic when small, but can cause problems in the following ways:

Treatment options for aneurysms include:

Most small aneurysms are detected incidentally and can be observed as they have a low risk of rupture or other complications. In the case of an abdominal aortic aneurysm this would entail 6 monthly ultrasound evaluations. Once the aneurysm becomes symptomatic or a certain size is reached (usually 5.0 - 5.5cm) elective repair should be performed. This can be done by either open repair or endovascular therapy.