A Guide to Aortic Aneurysms

'Aortic aneurysm' is a term used to describe the dilation of a section of the the body's primary artery, the aorta. This dilation can lead to a person's artery rupturing, which can, in turn, put their life at risk. Read on to learn more about this condition.


The symptoms that a person will experience when they have this condition will depend on where the aortic aneurysm is located (this type of aneurysm usually develops in either the thoracic region or in the abdomen).

If it is in the abdomen and it has not yet ruptured, they may notice persistent abdominal pain or a pulsating sensation in their stomach. If it is in this area and it ruptures, they may sweat profusely, experience extreme pain in their abdomen and eventually lose consciousness.

If an aortic aneurysm is located in a person's thoracic region and it hasn't burst, they may not have any symptoms. However, once it ruptures, they may struggle to breathe, have a severe coughing fit and notice extreme pain in their chest area.

Treatment options

Surgery is the main way to treat an aortic aneurysm. However, major surgery of this kind can be quite risky and may result in post-operative complications, particularly in patients who also suffer from other health problems.

As such, if a person is found to have a small aortic aneurysm which is unlikely to rupture in the near future, their doctor may recommend that they go for regular ultrasounds instead of having surgery right away. These ultrasounds will enable the doctor to monitor the size of the aneurysm. If an ultrasound reveals that the aneurysm has grown, the patient may then be referred for surgery.

However, in cases where an aortic aneurysm is very large, it may be necessary for the person to have surgery, as the larger an aneurysm becomes, the more likely it is to burst (this is because as the aneurysm grows, the walls of the artery stretch and become much weaker and more susceptible to rupturing).

This type of surgery is performed by a vascular surgeon. If the patient is having open surgery, the surgeon will make a large incision in either their abdomen or their chest (depending on whether the aortic aneurysm is in their abdominal or thoracic region) and will then insert a graft into the affected section of the aorta. This graft will allow blood to safely pass through the aorta, without placing pressure on the aneurysm and causing it to rupture.