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What are Aortic and Peripheral Aneurysms?

An aneurysm is a weak spot in a blood vessel that widens due to the force of blood flow. If it bursts (ruptures), you could experience internal bleeding. It can also lead to blood clots (thrombosis) and blockages that disrupt blood flow. Our experts treat aneurysms that occur within the aorta and peripheral vascular system. You receive comprehensive care to lower your risk of a ruptured aneurysm.

Aneurysm care in the Puget Sound: Why choose us?

Our approach to aneurysm treatment includes screening tests and sophisticated imaging studies to catch aneurysms in earlier stages. We accurately pinpoint the aneurysm’s location and severity so that you receive the right care for your needs. Doctors use the best available aneurysm treatments to prevent ruptures, including medical and surgical options. 

Get more information about your aneurysm risk and available therapies by visiting one of our specialists located throughout the Puget Sound. To make an appointment, contact one of our specialists.

What do aortic and peripheral aneurysms feel like?

Aneurysms typically develop over many years and might not cause symptoms until they become large or rupture. The symptoms you experience also depend on the aneurysm’s location. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Blue or black skin on your fingers or toes
  • Chest, back or abdominal pain
  • Limb discomfort that worsens with physical activity
  • Painful sores on your extremities that are slow to heal
  • Nerve compression causing pain that may radiate down the affected limb

If you feel sudden, severe pain in your chest, back or abdomen, along with dizziness or a rapid heartbeat, call 911. These may be signs that an aneurysm has ruptured, a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Aneurysm types

Our vascular disease specialists treat aneurysms affecting the: 

  • Aorta, a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body
  • Carotid artery in the neck, which delivers blood to the brain, head and face
  • Femoral artery near the groin that supplies blood to the lower extremities 
  • Mesenteric artery, which provides blood to the intestines
  • Popliteal artery behind the knee that delivers blood to your lower legs
  • Splenic artery that supplies the spleen, pancreas and stomach

Aortic and peripheral aneurysm causes and risk factors

Certain factors increase your risk for an aneurysm, including: 

  • Age: Aneurysms typically occur in a person’s 60s or 70s. 
  • Family history: A family history of heart or vascular disease raises your risk of aneurysm.
  • Gender: The condition occurs more frequently in men.
  • Other medical issues: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), obesity or inherited connective tissue disorders like Marfan syndrome may lead to an aneurysm.
  • Tobacco use: Smoking is the most significant aneurysm risk factor. It damages blood vessel walls, making an aneurysm more likely.

Aneurysm diagnosis

We often detect aneurysms during assessments for other medical issues. If there is a concern, our team performs a comprehensive evaluation and confirms the diagnosis with imaging studies, like duplex ultrasound. Get more information about vascular testing in our accredited lab. 

You may also benefit from an assessment if you don’t have aortic aneurysm symptoms but have risk factors. Detecting an aneurysm in its early stages means you can receive timely care that lowers the risk of complications, such as blood clots. A blood clot can cause a severe blockage, increasing the risk of limb loss (amputation). Get more information about vascular disease screenings.

Peripheral aneurysm screening

Screening tests can detect signs of peripheral aneurysms in early stages when you are not likely to experience symptoms. They are for people facing a higher risk of the disease, including males 65 or older who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. This evaluation involves a standard ultrasound.

Treatments for aortic and peripheral aneurysms

We use medical therapies to treat slow-growing aneurysms and ones that are not likely to rupture. If medical therapies are unsuccessful, or you face a high risk of complications, we repair the vessel. Read more about our vascular disease treatments.

  • Medical therapies may include:

    • Medications: You may benefit from drugs that lower cholesterol or blood pressure. Aspirin or other blood thinners may prevent blood clots.
    • Lifestyle changes: Quitting tobacco can improve your vascular health. You should also consume a lower-fat diet with fruits, vegetables and lean protein sources.  
    • Physical activity: Some of our locations offer a supervised exercise program for vascular disease patients. A physical therapist helps you become more physically active. 
    • Controlling other medical conditions: Following treatment recommendations for conditions like high blood pressure and peripheral artery disease may shrink plaque build-ups.
  • If an aneurysm rupture is likely, you may need surgery. We offer both minimally invasive (endovascular) and open procedures to repair aneurysms.

    • Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR): We use a thin tube (catheter) to guide a hollow device (stent graft) to the aneurysm. The stent graft expands to reinforce the affected artery and prevents blood from entering the aneurysm.   
    • Open surgical repair: We make an incision and remove the aneurysm. We replace that part of the artery by sewing a graft into place.

Contact us

Learn more about testing and treatment in the Puget  Sound.