Mechanism, diagnosis and risk factors
An abdominal aortic aneurysm consists of a localized bulge on the abdominal aorta or a dilatation of at least 150% of its diameter, most commonly located below the renal arteries.
Depending on the patient’s age, sex and morphology, the aorta’s normal diameter
should be around 1.5 cm to 2.5 cm.
Several vascular surgery associations recommend screenings for men and women aged 65 and over who have risk factors (smoking or family history). Among them are the Association de chirurgie vasculaire et endovasculaire du Québec (ACVEQ) and the Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery (CSVS).
Although the causes of such weaknesses in arteries remain unknown, it would seem that several risk factors play a role, including age, male sex, tobacco use, high blood pressure, atherosclerotic disease (heart attack, stroke) and family history.
Abdomen palpation can reveal abdominal aortic aneurysms, depending on the aneurysm’s size and the patient’s build. Diagnosis is most often made as the result of a radiological examination (ultrasound, CT scan) requested for a different condition. More rarely, acute symptoms such as abdominal, back pain and syncope will appear and point to a ruptured aneurysm, which will require urgent surgical intervention.
In most cases, however, diagnosis and monitoring will be based on abdominal ultrasounds.
Abdominal ultrasounds performed at Clinique Pierre Larose are not covered by the Régie de l’assurance-maladie du Québec (RAMQ). However, many private insurance providers will cover them.
Depending on a patient’s age and medical history, open or endovascular surgical treatment is recommended once the abdominal aortic aneurysm reaches a diameter of 5 cm to 5.5 cm. Otherwise, a follow-up ultrasound will be conducted every 6 to 12 months.