Aortic Aneurysms and Thoracic Aneurysms

Aneurysms are caused when the wall of an artery becomes weakened. If this happens then the sides of the artery can balloon out. There are often no symptoms with small aneurysms but larger aneurysms can be very dangerous.

The two most dangerous types of aneurysms occur in the abdomen (aortic) or in the chest (thoracic). When large aortic aneurysms burst they can cause massive internal bleeding which is fatal in 1 out of 5 cases. Fortunately ruptured this is a rare occurrence with only around 1 in 10,000 people experiencing a ruptured aortic aneurysm.

Screening for aneurysms

There is a national screening programme for aortic aneurysms (but not for thoracic). Screening is normally offered to men over the age of 65 as this is the group most likely to experience an aneurysm. Screening may also be recommended if you have high blood pressure or other conditions which may increase your risk. London Vascular Clinics can offer screening and advice if you are worried about aneurysms.

Treatment for aneurysms

There is little danger from small aneurysms. The risk is when the aneurysm becomes larger and is in danger of rupturing. If a small aneurysms is found your doctor is likely to recommend that it is monitored regularly to check it is not getting any bigger. It is only if your aneurysms is large and likely to rupture that surgery will be recommended.

Surgery for aneurysms

Preventative surgery for aortic and thoracic aneurysms typically involves inserting a graft and stent to strengthen the artery where the aneurysm has bubbled out. The surgery can be performed in a number of different ways. With an endovascular aneurysms repair (EVAR) a stent will be pushed into through the femoral artery from the groin to the site of the aneurysm then expanded once in place to support the artery and strengthen its sides.

Keyhole surgery is another option where a series of small cuts will be made directly in the chest through which cameras and surgical instruments can be passed in order to install a graft or stent. In some cases neither keyhole or EVAR techniques are suitable and it will be necessary to completely open the chest in order to gain access. This is obviously a lot more invasive and will extend recovery times.

Book a consultation

At London Vascular Clinics we can give you a one on one consultation. We can discuss the best treatment for you including suitable medications and whether you may be suitable for surgery.