Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

The aorta is the main blood vessel which comes off the heart and supplies the body with blood. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall which leads to an increase in size of the aorta in your abdomen over time.

Factors that lead to an increase in size include:

  • Family history of aneurysms
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Cardiovascular disease such as heart disease or a stroke
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms


Most patients have no symptoms and are not aware that they have an aneurysm. An ultrasound is an effective means to check if you have an aneurysm.

As aneurysms are more common in men, screening is offered to all men over the age of 65 with a ultrasound scan to assess for an aneurysm.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms


Most aneurysms are kept under surveillance to assess if they are increasing in size. They are only treated if they reach a certain size or meet criteria for treatment.
Your vascular surgeon will assess you and counsel you on treatment options when the conditions have been met. The two main options to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm include:

  • Open repair- This involves a cut in the abdomen to stitch in a graft to exclude the aneurysm
  • Endovascular (keyhole) repair - A stent is inserted through the blood vessel in your groin and carefully placed in the aorta to exclude the aneurysm

Both options have pros and cons associated with them and your vascular surgeon will discuss this with you to help you make a decision