Aneurysms

Care & Treatment

If an aneurysm is found, your healthcare provider may watch it closely to see if it gets larger. This is called watchful waiting. Your provider will order regular ultrasounds every 3 to 12 months, depending on the aneurysm’s size and location. A very large aneurysm may need to be repaired immediately before it leaks or ruptures.

Medications

During watchful waiting, your healthcare provider may prescribe high blood pressure medications to help keep your aneurysm from growing larger.  The medications will decrease the force of blood flowing against artery walls. These include drugs that help relax the blood vessels, such as:

  • Vasodilators
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers

Your healthcare provider may also prescribe anticoagulants (sometimes referred to as "blood thinners") to help prevent blood clots from forming in the affected part of the artery.

Surgery

Once an aneurysm reaches a certain size, or if it grows too rapidly, or if it is pressing on other important parts of your body and causing symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to repair the aneurysm and prevent it from rupturing. Several new, less-invasive techniques have been developed to surgically repair aneurysms.

Surgery involves removing the damaged part of your artery and replacing it with a synthetic (man-made) tube called a graft.  This can be done by open surgery, or by threading the graft through a small cut in your artery and fastening it in place at the site of the aneurysm (this is called endovascular surgery).

The type of surgery your healthcare provider recommends will depend on:

  • The aneurysm’s location and size
  • Other medical conditions that may affect how well you will tolerate the surgery and any complications that might arise during or after the surgery

Your healthcare provider can perform emergency surgery when an aneurysm ruptures, but the surgical risks are much higher and the survival rate is lower.

 

Updated November 2016