The ballooning of a blood vessel is called an aneurysm. It commonly affects the blood vessels in the brain, aorta, behind the knee, and spleen. Read the article to know more.
The enlargement of an artery caused by weakness in the wall of the artery, is called an aneurysm. Usually, an aneurysm does not cause any symptoms. But it can cause fatal complications if it ruptures. As the artery wall is weakened in a spot, it results in a bulge or distention, of that spot. Most aneurysms are not dangerous, but some can rupture and result in severe internal bleeding. This bulging of an artery can occur anywhere in the body, but it is most commonly seen in the arteries of the brain, legs, spleen, and heart (aorta).
Aneurysms of the Circle of Willis in the brain and abdominal aortic aneurysms are most commonly fatal. Following a heart attack, aneurysms can also occur in the heart.
An aneurysm can be classified depending on the shape, type, and location. Depending on the shape, the types are:
Fusiform aneurysms - The blood vessel bulges on all sides.
Saccular aneurysms - Only bulge on one side.
Depending on the type, aneurysms can be:
True aneurysm - An aneurysm that involves all three layers of the artery wall. Examples are atherosclerotic, congenital, ventricular, and syphilitic aneurysms.
False aneurysm or Pseudoaneurysm - It occurs when blood leaks out of an artery or vein, but the blood gets collected in the surrounding tissue. It is commonly seen after blunt trauma.
Depending on the location, the types are:
Aortic aneurysm - The large artery that begins from the heart is called the aorta. It is normally 2 to 3 cm in diameter, but with an aneurysm, it can bulge to more than 5 cm. The two types of aortic aneurysm are:
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) - AAA is the most common type of aortic aneurysm. If left untreated, the survival rate is 20 % for an AAA of over 6 cm. It can become fatal rapidly.
Thoracic aortic aneurysm - This type is rare. It has a survival rate of 85 % with surgery and 56 % without treatment.
Brain aneurysm - Bulging of the arteries that supply blood to the brain are called brain or cerebral aneurysms. If this aneurysm gets ruptured, it results in death within 24 hours. It is fatal in 40 % of cases.
Peripheral aneurysm - An aneurysm in any of the peripheral arteries is called peripheral aneurysm. The types of peripheral aneurysm are:
Popliteal aneurysm (artery behind the knee).
Carotid artery aneurysm (artery in the neck).
Coronary artery aneurysm (arteries that supply blood to the heart).
Renal artery aneurysm (artery that supplies blood to kidneys).
Splenic artery aneurysm (artery near the spleen).
Femoral artery aneurysm (artery in the groin).
Mesenteric artery aneurysm (artery that carries blood to the intestines).
Visceral aneurysm (artery that supplies blood to the bowel).
The exact cause of an aneurysm is still not clear, but the factors that increase the risk of a person developing an aneurysm are:
Positive family history.
Congenital (present from birth).
Injury to tissue in the arteries.
Atherosclerotic disease (plaque buildup in the arteries).
High blood pressure (hypertension).
Aneurysms produce no symptoms and can develop slowly over many years. Symptoms develop when the aneurysm expands quickly or ruptures. The common symptoms include:
Increased heart rate.
If the aneurysm is near the surface of the skin, it might cause painful swelling with a visible throbbing mass.
Throbbing navel pain.
Severe pain on the side of the abdomen.
Loss of balance.
Loss of perception.
Pain behind the eyes.
Even though the exact cause of an aneurysm is not known, some factors that seem to increase the risk of developing one are:
Family history of heart problems.
Consuming a diet high in saturated and trans fats.
Aneurysms that do not cause any symptoms are diagnosed accidentally while screening for some other health condition. The common methods used are:
CT scan - X-rays are used to produce cross-sectional views of the body.
MRI scan - Strong magnetic fields, magnetic field gradients, and radio waves are used to generate images of the organs in the body.
Ultrasound - High-frequency sound waves are used to produce images of organs inside the body.
The treatment options include:
Aortic aneurysm - If the aneurysm does not cause any symptoms, then medications and preventive measures are suggested along with surgical treatment. Emergency surgery is needed for a ruptured aneurysm. Depending on the age, coexisting conditions, patient’s choice, size of the aneurysm, and it’s rate of growth, an unruptured aortic aneurysm is operated. The two surgical options include:
Open stent-graft surgery - Here, a large incision is made to expose the aorta, and a stent is placed.
Endovascular stent-graft surgery - Here, the aneurysm is accessed through a small incision near the hip, and a stent-graft is inserted. This graft helps seal off the aneurysm.
Brain aneurysm - Brain aneurysms are operated only if there is a high risk of rupture, as surgical complications are severe. Here, the doctor will advise the patients to lower the risk of such aneurysms from rupturing, like controlling blood pressure.
Aneurysms can be fatal if they rupture. Symptoms that result from a ruptured aneurysm are:
Aortic aneurysm rupture - Severe chest or back pain.
Angina - A type of chest pain that can also cause a heart attack.
Brain aneurysm rupture - Extreme headache.
Some tips that can help prevent an aneurysm are:
Your diet should contain a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Consume lean meat and low-fat dairy products.
Exercising regularly can help good blood circulation and blood flow to the heart and blood vessels.
Go for regular checkups.
For more information, consult a doctor online.
Query: Hello doctor, I met with an accident and got a hit in the occipital region before a month. Though there is no pain or headache, had a check MRI scan last month. Incidental finding of ICA aneurysm. To confirm, had another MRI scan from a different hospital and that too revealed the same as ophthalmi... Read Full >>
Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. I have read your concern about the ICA (internal carotid artery) aneurysm. It is a good thing that you identified it early. The size is small. Aneurysm at this location is hard to operate on because of the depth, and the rupture rate (which we are concerned about) is... Read Full
Query: Hi doctor, I have a 6-year-old daughter diagnosed with an aneurysmal bone cyst at the medial end of the left clavicle. Histology report confirms the aneurysmal bone cyst. Curettage was done, and it was filled with Chronos granules. Can my child become well? Even after 15 days after surgery, it rema... Read Full >>
Answer: Hi, Welcome to icliniq.com. I have gone through the attachment (attachment removed to protect patient identity). She should do well after the surgery. Curettage is done thoroughly and filled with grafts. There are chances of recurrence, which are pretty high. Recurrence usually occurs between six ... Read Full
Query: Hello doctor, I have been diagnosed with dilated vasculature including the abdominal aorta, inferior vena cava and iliac veins (described as aneurysmal in size, 34 mm on right, 21 mm on left). What could cause this? Could stress cause that? Read Full >>
Answer: Hi, Welcome to icliniq.com. An aortic aneurysm may result from trauma, infection or most commonly from an intrinsic abnormality of elastin and collagen component of the aortic wall. Genetic abnormalities like Marfan syndrome, Ehler Danlos Syndrome, etc., are associated with aortic syndrome. Risk f... Read Full
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