Different Treatment for Different Sizes of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

Previously published in Examiner
Part 8 of the abdominal aorta series

The Montreal Neurological Institute is a world renown research center and hospital specializing in the diseases of the brain.

One of the scariest conditions to think about is having a brain aneurysm. Many Montrealers automatically think death when they think aneurysm, but how many people actually know what a brain aneurysm is?

Diagnostic tests for abdominal aortic aneurysms continued

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

The MRI is another doughnut shaped machine. You will be lying on a sliding table that will enter the machine. The MRI measures the alignment of atoms in the body by producing radio waves. The technician will then measure the electrical signals and look specifically for the signals that are given off for an aneurysm.

Who should go for screening

If you are a male with a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms you should start getting screenings by the age of 60. If you do not have a family history of this condition, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men between the ages of 65 to 75 should get at least one screening for the abdominal aortic aneurysm. This information would serve for Montrealers as well.

How abdominal aortic aneurysms are treated

Small aneurysms

If the aneurysm is small meaning that it is no bigger than about 1.6 inches, or 4 centimeters (cm), and there are no symptoms, chances are your doctor will just watch the aneurysm, just to make sure it doesn’t get any bigger. Surgery is a far greater risk than a possible rupture. Usually the doctor will send you for periodic ultrasounds. Of course if you develop any pain or tenderness in the abdomen, or you develop back pain, you must alert your doctor immediately.

Medium sized aneurysms

When the aneurysm is 1.6 and 2.2 inches (4 and 5.6 cm) it isn’t as clear if surgery would be more dangerous than simply watching the aneurysm to see if it gets larger or ruptures. You will have to sit down with your doctor and discuss the pros and cons of surgery versus just sitting back and waiting.

Large, fast-growing or leaking aneurysms

If the aneurysm is larger than 2.2 inches, or 5.6 cm, or is growing quickly, surgery will probably be recommended especially if you are experiencing pain.