Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Tinsley Surgical

Ellis A. Tinsley, MD, FACS, FSVS

Vascular Surgeon & General Surgeon located in Wilmington, NC

The best way to prevent the severe complications an abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause is to attend a screening test, as this arterial enlargement often causes no symptoms. Ellis A. Tinsley, MD, FACS, FSVS, is a double board-certified vascular surgeon providing outstanding vascular services for patients at his practice Tinsley Surgical in Wilmington, North Carolina. He and his team have extensive experience screening for and treating abdominal aortic aneurysms, and have in-house ultrasound facilities for fast diagnosis. Keep yourself safe by booking an appointment with Tinsley Surgical online or by phone today.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Q & A

What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

An abdominal aortic aneurysm affects the large artery called the aorta that carries oxygen-enriched blood from your heart. An aneurysm is an enlargement of the aorta that could potentially rupture, causing a life-threatening bleed.

Having an abdominal aortic aneurysm increases your risk of thrombosis, where a blood clot that breaks off from the aneurysm blocks a blood vessel in your leg or organs. These can be painful and lead to a potentially life-threatening embolism.

What are the symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

Abdominal aortic aneurysms can develop without you being aware of them. Unless the aneurysm expands and starts causing symptoms, you may never know you have one.

If your abdominal aortic aneurysm gets bigger, you might get symptoms such as:

  • Constant abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Pulse near your belly button

If the aneurysm ruptures, the pain becomes much worse, like an intense tearing feeling. Your pulse becomes rapid, and your blood pressure drops, constituting a medical emergency.

What causes an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

Aneurysms usually develop because of:

  • Atherosclerosis (hardened arteries)
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood vessel inflammation
  • Infection in the aorta
  • Trauma

You’re more likely to suffer an abdominal aortic aneurysm if you’re over 50, especially if you’re male, white, are a smoker, or have a family history of aneurysms.

How is an abdominal aortic aneurysm diagnosed?

If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, you might only discover you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm during a routine physical exam or a test that you’re having for other reasons. If you are experiencing symptoms, the team at Tinsley Surgical can run diagnostic tests such as:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • MRI 

If you’re a man over 50 years old, and you’re a smoker or used to smoke, you should arrange for a screening test with the team at Tinsley Surgical. They can also advise other patients whether they need to have a screening test for abdominal aortic aneurysms.

How are abdominal aortic aneurysms treated?

Treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysms varies depending on the size of your aneurysm and whether it’s causing any symptoms. If it’s small and not causing any issues, you might need to attend regular checkups at Tinsley Surgical to monitor the aneurysm’s progress.

Surgery might be needed if your aneurysm is:

  • Bigger than 5 centimeters (2 inches)
  • Expanding quickly
  • Leaking
  • Causing pain

Where possible, the team at Tinsley Surgical uses less invasive endovascular aneurysm repair, which causes less tissue damage and promotes a quicker recovery. The procedure involves passing a thin tube called a catheter into a leg artery. The catheter transfers a synthetic graft called a covered stent mechanism into your aorta, where it reinforces the artery to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.

If you’re concerned about symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm or want to arrange a screening, call Tinsley Surgical today or book an appointment online.