An aneurysm develops in a weakened section in the wall of a blood vessel. The continual pressure of blood flowing past this area causes it to bulge or balloon out. Aneurysms can appear throughout the body and are of particular concern in the aorta—the main blood vessel supplying blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Most aortic aneurysms occur in the abdomen (abdominal aortic aneurysm) , while about 25 percent are found in the chest cavity (thoracic aortic aneurysm).
While some aortic aneurysms are harmless, others may pose a serious health threat. Aortic aneurysms can suddenly burst or rupture if they become large enough. Aortic aneurysms may get their start due to aortic dissection, when blood begins leaking in-between layers of the arterial wall and allows for the weakened wall to expand. Known as abdominal or thoracic dissection, depending on the location of the area affected, this condition is often associated with high blood pressure.
A ruptured aneurysm is potentially life-threatening. This situation can lead to severe internal bleeding that requires emergency surgery. Early recognition of symptoms, accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment from knowledgeable specialists significantly improve your chances of survival or preventing a serious health problem. At NorthShore, our vascular surgeons have the experience and expertise to help patients with aneurysms. We provide comprehensive screening, diagnosis and medical management as well as safe and effective minimally-invasive or open surgical procedures.