Aneurysm

An aneurysm is the localised enlargement of a blood vessel.

Overview

An aneurysm is the localised enlargement of a blood vessel. It usually occurs in an artery, mainly as a consequence of arteriosclerosis. If general symptoms and sudden pain in the head, chest, abdomen or back are experienced, an aneurysm could have ruptured. The emergency services should be called immediately. Preventive measures include giving up smoking, losing weight and getting regular exercise.

Symptoms

  • Often no symptoms for a long time
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm
    • Feeling of tightness, shortness of breath, back pain
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
    • Pulsating bulge in the lower abdomen
  • Intracranial aneurysm
  • Popliteal aneurysm
    • Noticeably strong pulse in the knee pit
    • Sometimes, a pulsating bulge

Complications

  • Tear in the aorta
  • Rupture of cerebral aneurysm
  • Popliteal aneurysm
    • Blockage of blood vessel (thrombosis)
    • Calf or foot is pale and cold
    • Sensory disturbances (tingling, numbness)
    • Sometimes, paralysis

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • General cardiovascular risk factors
  • Arteriosclerosis (see risk factors above) can sometimes lead to aortic dissection (aneurysm causes a tear in the vascular wall)
    • Heart attack (risk of an aneurysm in the heart chamber wall)
    • Weakness of vascular wall
  • Vascular malformations (typical of brain arteries)
  • Inflammation of the blood vessel wall (vasculitis)
  • Accident

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Listening (to the chest/abdomen)
  • Ultrasound (sonography)
  • X-ray imaging of blood vessels (angiography)
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
Possible therapies
  • Waiting, regular monitoring
  • Operation/intervention:
    • Stent: internal stent in the vessel wall
    • Insertion of a synthetic vascular prosthesis
    • Surgical removal of aneurysms

What can I do myself?

Get a personal Preventive Care Recommendation now.

When to see a doctor?

  • Bulge or swelling in the stomach
  • Breathing problems
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Regular monitoring of existing aneurysms
  • Emergency situation (emergency number 144)

Synonyms

aneurysm, aortic aneurysm, intracranial aneurysm, aortic dissection, dissection, cerebral aneurysm, popliteal aneurysm, aortic rupture, aneurysms

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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