Cardiovascular surgeons at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute are leaders in using advanced diagnostic technology and therapeutic intervention to diagnose and treat abdominal aortic aneurysms.
Bart Chess, MD — Vascular Surgery
Aortic aneurysms can develop anywhere along the length of the aorta, a major vessel that runs from the heart through the center of the chest and abdomen. Most aortic aneurysms occur in the abdominal aorta. An abdominal aneurysm located below the kidneys is called an infrarenal aneurysm, whereas a juxtarenal abdominal aortic aneurysm is close to the kidneys.
Most aneurysms are small and asymptomatic. However, a ruptured aneurysm can cause massive internal bleeding and lead to death. If you have an aneurysm, your doctor may recommend a few lifestyle changes and medications to lower your blood pressure and keep the condition from worsening. Patients who are experiencing pain, especially sudden and severe, should seek immediate medical help.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are often difficult to detect because they tend to grow slowly and show no symptoms. Most will remain small and never rupture, though some may grow larger over time — sometimes rapidly.
Signs of an enlarging abdominal aortic aneurysm are:
If you have a leaking aneurysm or abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture, the following symptoms may appear suddenly:
Several factors can cause an abdominal aortic aneurysm, including:
Abdominal aortic aneurysm risk factors include:
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are often detected during routine physical examinations and diagnosed through imaging tests, such as:
This scan uses radio waves and magnets to create detailed images and videos of your heart’s chambers, valves, and blood vessels in motion. Learn more about cardiovascular imaging.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm radiology involves taking a series of X-rays from different angles to provide detailed images of your heart.
Imaging that allows physicians to see internal organs and blood vessels from different angles with precise anatomical detail.
This is the most common test used to diagnose abdominal aortic aneurysms. It uses sound waves to show how blood is flowing through the abdominal area, including the aorta.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening recommendations generally apply to:
Bart Chess, MD — Vascular Surgery
Treatment for aortic disease is individualized depending on your specific health situation and may involve careful monitoring or surgery. In an effort to prevent an aneurysm from rupturing, abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery options include:
This is a common procedure used to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm. A surgeon will use a catheter to place an endograft or stent graft on the site of the aneurysm. The graft helps strengthen the weakened section of the aorta to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing. This is also referred to as endovascular stent grafting.
Also referred to as open aneurysm repair, this procedure involves removing the damaged part of the aorta and replacing it with a graft.
The treatment you receive depends on the size of the aortic aneurysm, how fast it's growing, and the shape of your particular aneurysm. Learn more about treating aortic disease.
After open abdominal aortic surgery, you can expect the site of the incision to be sore for a few weeks. You will return to see your doctor 10 to 14 days after surgery to have the stitches removed.
You may feel more tired than usual for several weeks after the surgery. Recovery time will depend on each person but should take between two to three months. For six weeks, you should avoid doing any strenuous activity and heavy lifting to prevent problems with the incision on your abdomen.
After endovascular aneurysm repair, you may be sore for seven to 10 days. You can expect to return to normal function in about two weeks. You will need to have an ultrasound or CT scan at least once a year to check on the condition of your repaired aorta.
Make sure to tell your dentist and doctors that you have a graft on your aorta as you may need to take antibiotics before certain procedures to prevent an infection.
Our team is known for providing exceptional heart disease care. Here, you benefit from:
Our team taps the expertise of doctors from different fields. We develop a treatment plan specific to your health condition and needs. AHN participates in clinical trials for carotid artery stenting and new therapies at the Cardiovascular Research Institute.
Cardiovascular surgeons at AHN Cardiovascular Institute and AHN Aortic Disease Program are leaders in performing endovascular aortic aneurysm repair (EVAR) and have years of experience with related procedures such as carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, renal artery disease, venous insufficiency and varicose veins, wound healing, lymphedema, and critical limb ischemia.
If you have not been formally diagnosed yet, call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 to schedule an appointment with a general cardiologist to be evaluated.
If you’re already diagnosed with an aortic disease and you are seeking a second opinion, call (412) 359-8820 to schedule a consultation with our Aortic Disease Program.
To schedule a consultation with our Aortic Disease Program, call (412) 359-8820 and connect with our program coordinator.
If you have a referral to schedule a procedure, contact the team at the facility where you want to have the procedure completed:
Allegheny General Hospital
320 East North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
2570 Haymaker Road
Monroeville, PA 15146
565 Coal Valley Road
Jefferson Hills, PA 15025
Saint Vincent Hospital
232 West 25th Street
Erie, PA 16544