Aneurysm

What is a Anurysm?

Anurysm is a localized dilation of the wall of a blood vessels. Anurysms are most prominent in the aorta but can also occur in peripheral vessels and are fairly common in the lower extremities of older people. The cause of anurysm can be a result of aging or disease and it can be congenital which means born with the defect.

The symptoms of anurysm depends on the location of the anurysm with the common sites at the abdominal aortic artery, the intracrancial muscles and the aorta. Note that many anurysms are without symptoms and can only be discovered by feeling or on x-ray films during an examination. However, when symptoms do occur, they may include a pulsing sensation and pain if the anurysm is pressing on internal organs. A ruptured anurysm produces sudden and severe pain. In other cases, anurysm may leak blood causing pain without the rapid deterioration characteristic of a rupture. Clots may often form in anurysm which creates danger.

There are some tests which can be done to detect anurysm. First off is the angiogram which is an x-ray exam of the arteries, veins or heart chambers. There is the MRI which is a diagnotic technique that uses the response of atoms to a strong magnetic field to produce cross-sectional images. The Spinal tap is another way to diagnose anurysm which is a puncture of the spinal cavity with a needle to extract spinal fluid for diagnostic purposes. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of an organ. Echocardiography may be used which uses ultrasound waves to visualize structures within the heart. Lastly, x-rays may also be obtained.

To treat anurysms, drugs may be prescribed to lower the blood pressure and to reduce the risk of rupture. However, some anursyms such as the abdominal anurysm must be treated surgically, especially if it is large and increasing in size. Enlarging thoracic anurysm should also be considered for surgery. Finally, a dissecting or ruptured anurysm requires immediate emergency surgery.

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