This occurs when plaque accumulates in the wall of the carotid arteries causing narrowing of the lumen and reducing blood flow to the brain. This can sometimes cause a stroke or a mini-stroke (Transient Ischemic Attack). This can be managed with open surgery to clear out the blockage or with stenting.
Aneurysms can grow for years before they are noticed.
What is an aneurysm?
An aneurysm is the ballooning of a blood vessel. When this occurs in the aorta inside the abdomen, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
How is an aneurysm diagnosed?
Most are discovered incidentally when patients undergo imaging for another reason. Some patients might have a pulsatile mass in the abdomen or extremities. Occasionally patients present with a ruptured (burst) or thrombosed (clogged up) aneurysm.
How is an aneurysm treated?
It depends on location and size. Aneurysms in the abdomen tend to rupture if they get too big. Close monitoring with ultrasound imaging every 6-12 months is recommended. Repair options include open surgery, but this is becoming less common as most patients can be treated with stents placed through small cuts in the groin.
Aneurysms in the extremities do not typically rupture but they tend to get clogged up. This can be dangerous because that can limit blood flow to the extremity and lead to gangrene and limb loss. These aneurysms need to be followed up closely and early intervention is recommended. Both open surgical and endovascular minimally invasive options are available.