Aortic aneurysms are a ballooning of the main blood vessel in the chest or the belly (abdomen). These can be thoracic or abdominal. The abdominal aortic aneurysms are more often seen than thoracic aortic aneurysms.
The abdominal aortic are more common in men and in people aged 65 years or older. There are several risk factors for aneurysms including atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), genetic factors, high blood pressure, smoking as well as infection or injury (the latter two being rare).
The management of aneurysms is dependant on the maximum antero-postero (front to back) diameter of the aneurysm and NOT on the length / extent of the aneurysm. Classic recommendations are to treat aneurysms with a size more than 5.5 cm in males and more than 5 cm in females.
Not all aneurysms need treatment. However once they reach the above criteria, one must discuss the operative option with a vascular surgeon. The operative treatment may be as an open operation which is the classical way of treating the aneurysm or with a minimally invasive (endovascular approach). The specific choice has to be based upon the patient’s overall condition as well as the specific structure of the aneurysm.