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What Is the Main Cause of an Aneurysm?

Reviewed on 10/2/2020

What Is an Aneurysm?

Brain Aneurysm
An aneurysm is diagnosed with imaging tests such as Angiogram, Computerized tomography (CT) scan, and others.

An aneurysm is an abnormal ballooning or widening in an artery that occurs when part of an artery wall weakens.

Aneurysms can occur anywhere in the body. Common locations for aneurysms include:

  • Aorta, the major artery from the heart (aortic aneurysm)
  • Brain (cerebral aneurysm)
  • In the leg behind the knee (popliteal artery aneurysm)
  • Intestine (mesenteric artery aneurysm)
  • Spleen (splenic artery aneurysm)

What Causes an Aneurysm?

The causes of aneurysms are often unknown but may include: 

  • Congenital birth defect
  • Aortic disease 
  • Injury 

Risk factors for developing an aneurysm include:

What Are Symptoms of an Aneurysm?

Aneurysms often have no symptoms because they develop slowly. 

If an aneurysm occurs near the surface of the skin, symptoms may include:

  • Pain 
  • Swelling 
  • A visible throbbing mass

If an aneurysm swells quickly or ruptures, symptoms can develop suddenly and include:

Additional symptoms for aneurysm depend on the location and may include: 

  • Aortic aneurysm
    • A noticeable pulsation near the navel
    • Abdominal or back pain
    • A clogged blood vessel in a leg, which can lead to symptoms in the leg or foot such as pain, numbness, tingling, paleness, coolness to the touch
  • Cerebral aneurysm
    • Bad headache
    • Facial pain
    • Blurred or double vision
    • If a cerebral aneurysm ruptures:
      • Sudden onset of pain
      • “The worst headache you’ve ever had” 
      • Stiff neck
      • Passing out
  • Popliteal artery aneurysm
    • Pain behind the knee
    • Fluid collection (edema) in the lower leg
    • Foot pain
    • Ulcers on the skin of the feet that don't heal
  • Mesenteric artery aneurysm
  • Splenic artery aneurysm
    • Vague abdominal discomfort 
    • Left shoulder discomfort associated with irritation of the diaphragm

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How Is an Aneurysm Diagnosed?

An aneurysm is diagnosed with imaging tests such as: 

What Is the Treatment for an Aneurysm?

A ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency. Call 911 or get to a hospital’s emergency department immediately. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with an unruptured aneurysm, your doctor will want to monitor you for any changes to the aneurysm. 

Some treatments for aneurysms include: 

  • Open surgery 
    • Clipping 
  • Endovascular surgery 
    • Coils
    • Stents
    • Flow diversion devices

What Are Complications of an Aneurysm?

Complications of an aneurysm include: 

Aneurysm rupture: this is serious and, in some cases, can cause instant death
  • Aneurysm dissection: the wall of the artery tears into layers and can cause problems with blood flow to vital organs
  • Aneurysm thrombosis: blood clots 
  • Embolization: a blood clot passes through the bloodstream, which can cause significant problems depending on the area affected
  • Infection/inflammation

How Do You Prevent an Aneurysm?

To lower the risks of developing an aneurysm, it is important to maintain healthy blood vessels, which can be done by:

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Reviewed on 10/2/2020
References
Source:

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/aortic-aneurysm/what-is-an-aneurysm

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm-beyond-the-basics?search=Aaortic%20aneurysm%20symptoms&source=search_result&selectedTitle=5~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=5

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/brain-aneurysm-the-basics?search=%E2%80%A2%09Cerebral%20aneurysm%20symptoms&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

https://uvahealth.com/services/aneurysm-treatment/popliteal-aneurysm http://www.sydneyvascularsurgery.com.au/mesenteric-artery-aneurysm.html

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-visceral-artery-aneurysm-and-pseudoaneurysm?search=Splenic%20artery%20aneurysm&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~11&usage_type=default&display_rank=1#H1307281089

http://www.christchurchvascularsurgery.health.nz/complications-of-aneurysms.html
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