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Aneurysm

An aneurysm is an abnormal widening or ballooning of a part of an artery due to weakness in the wall of the blood vessel.

It is not clear exactly what causes aneurysms. Some aneurysms are present at birth. Others are caused by defects in the arterial walls.

Common locations for aneurysms include:

  • Major artery from the heart such as the thoracic or abdominal aorta
  • Behind the knee in the leg (popliteal artery aneurysm)
  • Intestine (mesenteric artery aneurysm)
  • Artery in the spleen (splenic artery aneurysm)

Common risk factors for aneurysms include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the location of the aneurysm. If the aneurysm occurs near the body’s surface, pain and swelling with a throbbing lump is common.

Aneurysms in the body or brain often cause no symptoms. Aneurysms in the brain may expand without breaking open. The expanded aneurysm may press on nerves and cause double vision, dizziness, or headaches. Some aneurysms may cause ringing in the ears.

If an aneurysm ruptures, pain, low blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, and lightheadedness may occur. The risk of coma or death after an aneurysm rupture is high.


Diagnosis

Your physician at Deborah Heart and Lung Center will perform a physical exam.They may also order any of the following tests that can be used to diagnose an aneurysm:

  • CT scan
  • CT angiogram
  • MRI
  • MRA
  • Ultrasound
  • Angiogram