An aneurysm, which can occur in several different locations in the body, is a balloon-like bulge in an artery that is in danger of rupturing. While some aneurysms are congenital (present from birth) or caused by a defect, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking are factors that can increase the risks of developing this condition.
The symptoms of an aneurysm can vary depending on the area of the body in which it is located. While they can develop for many years without producing any notable symptoms, aneurysms that occur near the surface of the skin can sometimes result in pain, swelling, or a throbbing lump. If an aneurysm occurs in the brain it may put pressure on nearby nerves, which can result in headaches, double vision, dizziness, and even ringing in the ears.
There are four different types of aneurysms:
- Cerebral – Occurring in the brain, this type of aneurysm often produces no symptoms and can cause a stroke when it ruptures.
- Abdominal aortic – This type of aneurysm occurs in the aorta, which supplies blood flow to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs.
- Thoracic aortic – Often caused by hardening of the arteries, this type affects the portion of the aorta that passes through the chest cavity.
- Peripheral – This form affects arteries other than the aorta that are not associated with the brain, including the popliteal artery, the femoral artery, and the carotid artery.
Several different tests can be used to diagnose an aneurysm, such as a CT scan, an MRI, a cerebral angiogram, or a cerebrospinal fluid test. Possible treatments range from medicines that can lower blood pressure and relax blood vessels, to surgery when a greater risk of rupture exists. Surgical options include the insertion of a coil or graft to limit blood flow or strengthen the affected area, or the removal of the aneurysm with a graft used to replace a section of the aorta.
At Tampa General Hospital, our team of specialists uses state-of-the-art methods and technology to diagnose and treat patients with vascular disorders such as aneurysms. TGH’s Cardiovascular Center features 47 pre- and post-procedure rooms and more than 77,000 square feet of dedicated space.