Aorta: Aortic Aneurysm

Overview

Your Aorta

The aorta is the largest artery in the body and is the blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to all parts of the body.

The section of the aorta that runs through the chest is called the thoracic aorta and, as the aorta moves down through the abdomen it is called the abdominal aorta.

What Is An Aortic Aneurysm?

An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal enlargement or bulging of the wall of the aorta. An aneurysm can occur anywhere in the vascular tree. The bulge or ballooning may be defined as a:

  • Fusiform: Uniform in shape, appearing equally along an extended section and edges of the aorta.
  • Saccular aneurysm: Small, lop-sided blister on one side of the aorta that forms in a weakened area of the aorta wall.

An aneurysm can develop anywhere along the aorta:

  • Aneurysms that occur in the section of the aorta that runs through the abdomen (abdominal aorta) are called abdominal aortic aneurysms.
  • Aortic aneurysms that occur in the chest area are called thoracic aortic aneurysms and can involve the aortic root, ascending aorta, aortic arch or descending aorta.
  • Aneurysms that involve the aorta as it flows thru both the abdomen and chest are called thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms.

Abdominal aortic aneurysms and thoracic aneurysm are not the only type of aneurysm. Aneurysms can develop in other blood vessels:

  • Popliteal: an aneurysm in the artery behind the knee
  • Renal: an aneurysm in the kidney; a very rare condition
  • Visceral: an aneurysm in an internal organ and/or intestines

Symptoms and Causes

What are the Symptoms of Aortic Aneurysm?

Symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm (affecting upper part of aorta in chest):

Symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (affecting lower part of aorta in abdomen):

  • Pulsating enlargement or tender mass felt by a physician when performing a physical examination
  • Pain in the back, abdomen, or groin not relieved with position change or pain medication
  • Learn more about abdominal aortic aneurysm

Early diagnosis of an aneurysm is critical to managing the condition and reducing the risk of rupture. If you have these symptoms, call your doctor right away.

Resources

Find a Doctor Who Treats Aortic Aneurysm

Doctors vary in quality due to differences in training and experience; hospitals differ in the number of services available. The more complex your medical problem, the greater these differences in quality become and the more they matter.

Clearly, the doctor and hospital that you choose for complex, specialized medical care will have a direct impact on how well you do. To help you make this choice, read more about our Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute outcomes.

The Aorta Center includes a multidisciplinary group of specialists in cardiology, cardiac surgery, vascular medicine, vascular surgery, cardiothoracic anesthesia, cardiovascular imaging, genetics, ophthalmology and orthopedic surgery. These clinicians are experts in genetic and diagnostic testing, medical management and surgical and endovascular procedures. They are dedicated to providing care to patients with all types of aortic disease.

Learn more about experts who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of aorta disease.

You may also use our MyConsult second opinion consultation using the Internet.

Contact

If you need more information, click here to contact us, chat online with a nurse or call the Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Resource & Information Nurse at 216.445.9288 or toll-free at 866.289.6911. We would be happy to help you.

Becoming a Patient

Treatment Options

Additional information about aortic aneurysm treatment options can be found at:

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Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

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