Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) refers to a condition that afflicts the aorta, the largest artery in the body, in the abdomen. When the wall of the artery weakens with aging, in some people it can expand or inflate dangerously, and occasionally burse. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are very common, present in up to 5% of men over the age of 65. It is five times as common in men as women. Unfortunately, if a weakened aorta should rupture, the death rate is over 80%. Of those that survive to make it to a hospital, the death rate still averages 50%. There are over 50,000 deaths annually attributed to this common condition.
It is important to detect AAA prior to rupture. Over 200,000 AAA’s are diagnosed in the U.S. annually. Because of its prevalence and great risk when not diagnosed, Medicare has recently approved screening tests for AAA, so individuals may qualify for a noninvasive (ultrasound) test to diagnose AAA without any signs or symptoms of this disease. Please contact us if you are interested in scheduling such an examination.
Ruptured aortic aneurysms are usually treated with emergent surgery. However, if detected electively prior to rupture, often AAA’s can be treated with a new minimally invasive treatment, Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR). With EVAR, a small incision is made in a leg artery, and a stent-graft introduced into the aorta using catheters and fluoroscopic (X-ray) guidance. Often, people who undergo this treatment can be discharged from the hospital the following day and back to full activity within a week.
The Interventional Radiologists at Rhode Island Medical Imaging were the first in Rhode Island to offer EVAR. If you are found to have an AAA and would like consideration for EVAR, please contact us to schedule a consultation at (401)-421-1924