Middle age man in blue shirt with hand on abdomen

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) happens when the large blood vessel that supplies blood to the areas around the abdomen, pelvis, and legs becomes abnormally large. If this aneurysm becomes too thin and too large it can rupture, causing catastrophic bleeding. An abdominal aortic aneurysm seldom has symptoms, though some people may notice a pulsing sensation in their abdomen or experience back pain.

Risk factors for Abdominal aortic aneurysm include:
  • Male gender
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Advanced age
Detecting an AAA before it ruptures allows our team of highly-trained physicians, technicians, and clinical staff to assess the best treatment options for you. Aneurysms can be successfully managed and, if necessary, treated with surgery. Men over 65 with a history of smoking may qualify for an ultrasound under Medicare.

diagnosis, treatment and technologies

Lifestyle adjustments and medications

Some aneurysms, depending on their size, may not immediately require repair and can be monitored with repeated screening. Patients with an AAA should not smoke.  If you have an AAA, you should also work with your primary care provider to manage your blood pressure and maintain a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. 

Interventional and surgical treatments

AAAs can be surgically repaired through an incision in the abdomen or through an endovascular procedure to insert a stent graft.  Your vascular surgeon will work with you to determine the best approach based on your unique needs. 

What is your vascular health?

Anyone can experience vascular problems, but smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, age, obesity and heredity can lead to an increased risk. Problems with the vascular system can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attack, stroke and limb loss. Routine vascular screenings can help in the early detection of these potentially serious problems. CMC's New England Heart & Vascular Institute offers extensive vascular screening services. Your physician will determine if you are at risk and would benefit from screening.

What to Expect at a Vascular Screening

  • Your appointment will last about 45 minutes
  • We’ll use ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysm and Doppler imaging to assess the carotid arteries.The ankle-brachial index (ABI) screens for peripheral artery disease by measuring blood pressure in the arms and ankles.
  • Results will be mailed to you within a week of screening
Cost: $50. Call to schedule your vascular screening!


Vascular team

Our vascular physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and support staff bring extensive expertise and skill to each procedure, and take a personal interest in your well-being.

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