Diagnosis and Treatment

Early detection of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) can help save lives! Each year approximately 200,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with AAA. Because many do not experience any symptoms, it’s estimated that more than one million people are living with an undiagnosed AAA. Fortunately, at least 95 percent of these AAAs can be successfully treated if detected prior to rupture.

Diagnosis

Fortunately, most AAAs can be detected through a simple ultrasound screening in which a healthcare professional glides a sensor over the stomach to view images of the aorta. This painless procedure usually takes just a few minutes, and the images produced will help your doctor “see” inside your aorta to determine if an AAA is present. These exams also measure the size of the AAA, a key step in identifying the best treatment option.

Click Here To Watch a Video of a AAA Screening

Treatment

When found early, AAA can be effectively managed in order to keep the aneurysm from bursting or rupturing. A vascular specialist will determine the best course of treatment depending on the size and shape of the aneurysm and other medical conditions. One of the following may be recommended:

  • “Watchful waiting”—If the aneurysm is small, a doctor may decide to wait and watch carefully to see if there are any changes. In this method, patients are monitored every 6–12 months for changes in the size of the aneurysm. In addition, a doctor may suggest lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, lowering blood pressure, modifying diet or increasing daily exercise.
  • Open surgical repair—Through an abdominal incision, a surgeon replaces the section of the aorta where the aneurysm has formed with a synthetic fabric tube, or “graft.” Open surgical repair is performed under general anesthesia, usually taking 3–4 hours, and may require a hospital stay of 7–10 days.
  • Endovascular grafting—This is a less-invasive alternative to surgical repair, because the procedure occurs without a surgical opening of the aorta. Instead, the surgeon places a synthetic fabric tube (graft) supported by a metal scaffold (stent) inside the aneurysm. Because endovascular aneurysm repair is less invasive than open surgery, hospital stays can be shorter—typically lasting two to four days.

Talk to your doctor about these treatment options.