Aortic Aneurysms

A Silent Killer

Rupture of aortic aneurysms is the 13th leading cause of death in the United States. Aneurysms often go undiagnosed until a patient presents with signs and symptoms of rupture. Until that point most patients do not even know that they have an aneurysm. Unfortunately when an aneurysm has ruptured, it is frequently too late as 60-90% of patients with ruptured aneurysms die. This is why aortic aneurysms are known as silent killers.

Aneurysms can occasionally be detected on routine physical examination by the presence of a pulsing mass in the abdomen. Frequently, aneurysms can be detected when a person has an Xray, ultrasound, MRI or CT scan of the abdominal region for an unrelated reason. Lastly dedicated screening ultrasounds are used to detect abdominal aortic aneurysms. Current recommendations are that men between the ages of 65-75 who have a smoking history or any person between 65-75 who has a family history of aortic aneurysm should undergo a screening ultrasound.

The good news is that with early detection, the team of doctors at Miami Vascular Specialists can work to repair an aneurysm to prevent rupture. When an aneurysm is first detected, the team will typically order a CT scan to determine the size of the aneurysm and the anatomy that is unique to each patient. The size of the aneurysm is important because not  all aneurysms need to be repaired. Typically if an aneurysm measures less than 5.5 cm the best treatment is careful monitoring to make sure that the aneurysm does not grow. In cases where the aneurysm is more than 5.5 cm the MVS team will work to determine which is the best method to repair the aneurysm. Currently traditional, open surgery as well as the less invasive, endovascular repair are the methods to treat an aneurysm. While endovascular repair has the advantage of a shorter hospitalization and quicker recovery, it is not the right procedure for all patients. In these cases, open surgery typically remains a good option. The doctors at MVS are some of the world's experts in all types of aneurysm repair.