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Abdominal aortic aneurysm (endovascular aneurysm)

This condition, also known as a “triple A,” occurs when the aorta — a large blood vessel — in the abdominal region becomes abnormally large. If the aorta ruptures, it causes severe bleeding, extreme pain and if not treated immediately, death. Triple-A ruptures occur most frequently in men over the age of 50. If aneurysms are discovered early in their development, they can be treated successfully.

Diagnostics to detect abdominal aortic aneurysms include:

Ultrasound — Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the aortic blood vessel from the chest to the abdomen.

Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) — A scan is taken of your body using computer-processed X-rays generated in “slices” for image accuracy.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — A combination of a magnetic field and radio waves creates three-dimensional images of your heart and other parts of your body to determine if disease or physical anomalies are present.

Procedures to repair abdominal aortic aneurysms include:

Open surgical repair — Using a specially designed repair “graft” to replace the ballooned artery, the surgeon eliminates the damaged section of the aorta where the enlargement took place. The surgery requires traditional surgery: an incision and a hospital stay of several days to a week. Recovery can take one to two months.

Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) — In this minimally invasive procedure, the surgeon places a narrow tube (catheter) through a small incision in the groin. The catheter delivers a specially designed stent graft to the aorta. Because there is no open surgery, recovery time is about a week. Not every patient is a candidate for this type of procedure.