Aortic aneurysm

Aortic aneurysm is an enlargement of the aorta, which is the large artery which connects the heart to other organs. Aneurysm formation can occur anywhere along the aorta, and usually represent a weakness in the wall of the aorta.

Some factors which are associated with aortic aneurysms are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Bicuspid valve (this is a congenital abnormality of the valve)
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Aortic dissection
  • Trauma

People with aortic aneurysms usually do not have symptoms if the aneurysm is small. However, many aneurysms will grow with time, and can cause symptoms by pushing on adjacent organs. Some people report pain near the aneurysm. An aortic aneurysm is also more likely to rupture suddenly, which can be life-threatening. If the aortic aneurysm is near the aortic valve, it can lead to aortic insufficiency.

Aortic aneurysms can be diagnosed with echocardiograms, angiograms, CT scans, or MRI. Small aneurysms usually do not need surgery unless they are causing symptoms. It is important to make sure the aneurysm is not growing, and your doctor will want to obtain tests regularly to ensure there is no growth. If the aneurysm is growing, you may need surgery to replace the abnormal section of your aorta. This can be done through an incision on your chest or back, or via a catheter in your leg.