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Arterial Aneurysm Risks & Screening

An arterial aneurysm is defined as an abnormal enlargement of a vessel greater than or equal to 150% of its normal size. For abdominal aortic aneurysms, this is equal to 3cm or greater in most adults. Why is
this important?

Because the aorta is the biggest blood vessel in the body, acting as a central trunk that handles all the pressure the beating heart can produce. And as the diameter of a blood vessel increases, so too does the stress placed on the wall of the vessel. When that stress is applied to a weakened aorta, increased dilation occurs, leading to increased stress, leading to increased dilation, over and over again. At some point, something has to give…

This is why it is so important to identify and treat aortic aneurysms before catastrophe strikes. A ruptured aortic aneurysm can result in death in 50% of patients before they even arrive at the hospital,
with still more dying even if a successful and timely repair can be made. But, if caught and treated before rupture occurs, a mortality rate of less than 5% is observed. And that number continues to fall as
new less invasive endovascular technologies continue to make elective aneurysm repair safer and easier. What used to be an open operation that would take hours and require up to a week in the hospital has now become and operation that can sometimes be completed in less than an hour and require only a one-night stay in the hospital for observation! Endovascular aortic aneurysm repair (or EVAR for short) has also made it possible to treat patients with aneurysm disease that would have previously experienced great risk of disability and death with an open aneurysm repair.

Approximately 1.4% of Americans will be diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) in their lifetime. The greatest risk is for men who have ever smoked and are aged 65 or greater. Thus, The
Society for Vascular Surgery Guidelines recommends ultrasound screening for all men and women 65 years of age or older who have smoked or have a family history of AAA. If an aneurysm is discovered,
repair is recommended for those who’s aneurysm has grown to 5.5cm or greater. Aneurysms between 3-5.5cm can safely undergo routine surveillance with ultrasound or CT scanned modalities. Any
aneurysm which is greater than 5.5cm or that grows rapidly should be considered for elective repair. Also, any person with a known AAA and sustained abdominal pain not attributable to any other cause should seek immediate medical attention as this could be signs of impending aneurysm rupture. It is important for blood relatives of those affected by aneurysm disease to be screened as well, as certain connective tissue disorders will pre-dispose patients to a risk of aneurysm formation even in the absence of a history of smoking.

If you or your family members meet the above criteria and have never been screened for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, Vascular Surgery Associates provides fast and easy ultrasound screening services in our
offices. We are also offer the full range of treatment options available today, including traditional open surgical techniques with known durability, along with advanced minimally invasive endovascular
techniques. Please call Vascular Surgery Associates 1-855-648-9982 or visit www.vascularsurgeryassociates.net to schedule an appointment.

Author
Andrew P. Rivera, MD Andrew P. Rivera, MD P. Andrew Rivera, MD, RPVI, is a board-eligible vascular Surgeon who joined Vascular Surgery Associates, LLC, in 2022. A Texas native, Dr. Rivera received his Medical Doctorate from the University of Texas McGovern Medical School in Houston, Texas and stayed on as a general surgery intern. His surgical residency was completed at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center at Nashville.

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