Thomas C. Naslund, MD

Aortic Aneurysms

An aortic aneurysm is a weakened area in the wall of the aorta. This condition causes the aorta to widen or balloon.

Aortic Aneurysms

Types of Aortic Aneurysm

Aortic Aneurysms are named by their location in the body:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysms occur in the aorta within the abdomen.
  • Aortic arch aneurysms occur within the chest where branches to the arms and head arise.
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysms occur in the aorta within the chest.
  • Thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms occur in the aorta within both chest and abdomen.

Aortic Aneurysm Frequently Asked Questions

What cause an aortic aneurysm?

Possible causes of aortic aneurysms include:

  • Genetics especially with inherited conditions such as Marfan's Syndrome
  • Aging
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Injury

What are the symptoms of aortic aneurysms?

Most of the time, there are no symptoms with aneuryms, however sometimes patients can experience:

  • Pain in the abdomen, chest or back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • High blood pressure

If the aneurysm has ruptured, patients can experience:

  • Severe abdominal, chest and back pain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heart rate

How is an aortic aneurysm treated?

In regards to abdominal aortic aneurysm, in general, women with aneurysms of the aorta under 5 cm need simple observation. Repair is planned at or over 5 cm in diameter.  For men, aneurysms under 5.5 cm in diameter are observed and aneurysms at or over 5.5 cm in diameter are considered for repair. 

In regards to thoracic aortic aneurysm or thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm, aneurysms under 6 cm diameter are generally observed in men and women and aneurysms at or over 6 cm in diameter are considered for repair.

If you believe you have an aortic aneurysm,

you need evaluation by your physician since symptoms are not diagnostic, imaging studies such as CT scanning or MRI are needed.