Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Every year, more than 15,000 people in the U.S. die when an aneurysm in the chest or abdomen ruptures or separates. An aneurysm is an abnormal widening or bulging in an artery due to weakness in the wall of the blood vessel. The aorta is a major blood vessel that runs from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen. An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the lower section of the aorta becomes enlarged. This can cause the aorta to rupture. Aneurysms are often overlooked or misdiagnosed because they often occur without symptoms.

Our experienced vascular team leads the state of Michigan in performing the most aortic aneurysm repairs, and studies have determined that high-volume aortic surgery centers produce better results. We also have the ability to treat complex aneurysm cases that can be handled by only a few centers in Michigan.

Aneurysm Risk Factors

Risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysms include:

  • History of smoking
  • Family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Over the age of 60

High blood pressure Men are also more likely than women to develop abdominal aortic aneurysm.

If you or a loved one have two or more risk factors, contact our Spectrum Health Vascular Team for a free screening to determine your risk.

The cause of aortic dissection (when an abdominal aortic aneurysm tears) is unknown. Symptoms are rare, but may include pain or pulsation near the navel. An ultrasound can detect if a widening exists along the aortic artery, and just how big it is. This helps us to assess your risk.

Treatments for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Time is of the essence with an aortic aneurysm, so you'll receive immediate treatment. Our first priority is preventing the aneurysm from rupturing, keeping you alive. After immediate care, our heart and vascular specialists can recommend specific programs to help you prevent further vascular disease and adopt a more heart-healthy lifestyle. We help you through recovery, so you can resume your normal, healthy life.

There aren't many things more serious or severe than an abdominal aortic aneurysm. If sudden dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain or loss of consciousness occurs, it could be a rupturing aneurysm. Call 911 immediately. Fewer than 40 percent of patients survive a ruptured abdominal aneurysm.

Active Monitoring
If you have a known aneurysm, it can be monitored. Small aneurysms are less prone to rupture. They can enlarge over time, making them more likely to tear. Watching gives the chance for surgery to reduce the chance of rupture.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair
There are two main surgical options to repair the damage caused by an abdominal aortic aneurysm: endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) and open abdomen surgery. These surgeries can be used to repair or prevent the rupture of an aortic artery.

Health Beat

  • Kim Lautner

    This is not going to stop me

    When severe chest pain turned out to be an aortic dissection, Kim Lautner underwent a new procedure to repair the tear in her blood vessel.