Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Vascular

Clinicals - History

Fact Explanation
None Around 75% of aortic aneurysms are asymptomatic and are discovered incidentally.
Suprarenal aneurysms usually occur with no symptoms.
None
Around 75% of aortic aneurysms are asymptomatic and are discovered incidentally.
Suprarenal aneurysms usually occur with no symptoms.
Ureteric obstruction and hydronephrosis This is one of the pressure effects of the enlarging abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Once it compresses the Ureters the back pressure on the kidney causes hydronephrosis. Ureteric obstruction and hydronephrosis
This is one of the pressure effects of the enlarging abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Once it compresses the Ureters the back pressure on the kidney causes hydronephrosis.
Features of Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) obstruction. Eg: Edema of the lower extremities, Caput medusae. The enlarging AAA compresses the IVC resulting inferior vena cava syndrome (IVCS).
Poor venous drainage of the lower limb vessels causes edema of the lower limbs.
The dilatation of the co-lateral veins around the umbilicus makes the engorged veins visible known as Caput Medusae.
Features of Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) obstruction. Eg: Edema of the lower extremities, Caput medusae.
The enlarging AAA compresses the IVC resulting inferior vena cava syndrome (IVCS).
Poor venous drainage of the lower limb vessels causes edema of the lower limbs.
The dilatation of the co-lateral veins around the umbilicus makes the engorged veins visible known as Caput Medusae.
A classic triad of lower back pain, weight loss, and raised Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR). This triad is characteristic of inflammatory AAA, which represent the most extreme end of the spectrum of chronic inflammatory change seen in degenerative aneurysms, and account for 10% of AAAs. A classic triad of lower back pain, weight loss, and raised Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR).
This triad is characteristic of inflammatory AAA, which represent the most extreme end of the spectrum of chronic inflammatory change seen in degenerative aneurysms, and account for 10% of AAAs.
A characteristic triad of abdominal or back pain, hypovolaemic shock, and a pulsatile abdominal mass. Although characteristic, these symptoms are present only in a few patients, in those the aneurysm has ruptured. For this triad to be present it should be a retro peritoneal rupture of the AAA. The contained retro peritoneal haematoma acts as a tamponade and results in a temporary haemodynamic instability.
Patients might also develop cyanosis, mottling, altered mental status, tachycardia, along with hypotension due to rupture of the AAA.
A characteristic triad of abdominal or back pain, hypovolaemic shock, and a pulsatile abdominal mass.
Although characteristic, these symptoms are present only in a few patients, in those the aneurysm has ruptured. For this triad to be present it should be a retro peritoneal rupture of the AAA. The contained retro peritoneal haematoma acts as a tamponade and results in a temporary haemodynamic instability.
Patients might also develop cyanosis, mottling, altered mental status, tachycardia, along with hypotension due to rupture of the AAA.
Back pain, paralysis , groin pain and leg pain. Expanding AAA erosion of the lumbar vertebrae and later the spinal cord resulting in back pain and paralysis respectively.
Local compression of the lumbar plexus of nerves causes groin pain and leg pain.
Transient paralysis is seen in ruptured AAA.
Back pain, paralysis , groin pain and leg pain.
Expanding AAA erosion of the lumbar vertebrae and later the spinal cord resulting in back pain and paralysis respectively.
Local compression of the lumbar plexus of nerves causes groin pain and leg pain.
Transient paralysis is seen in ruptured AAA.
Acute ischemia of the foot and toes. According to the Virchow's triad the relative stasis of blood predisposes to the formation of in-situ thrombus and those may dislodge and embolise in the femoral and popliteal arteries causing acute ischemia of the foot and toes. Acute ischemia of the foot and toes.
According to the Virchow's triad the relative stasis of blood predisposes to the formation of in-situ thrombus and those may dislodge and embolise in the femoral and popliteal arteries causing acute ischemia of the foot and toes.
Symptoms due to arterio-venous fistula (AVF). Eg: tachycardia, congestive heart failure, leg swelling, abdominal bruit, renal failure and pheripheral ischemia. Small number of AAAs rupture in to the adjacent structures. Once it ruptures in to the IVC it causes an AVF. It cause shunt of blood from the aorta to the IVC and relative hypovolaemia induces tachycardia, and renal failure. The large venous return to the heart causes congestive heart failure. Symptoms due to arterio-venous fistula (AVF). Eg: tachycardia, congestive heart failure, leg swelling, abdominal bruit, renal failure and pheripheral ischemia.
Small number of AAAs rupture in to the adjacent structures. Once it ruptures in to the IVC it causes an AVF. It cause shunt of blood from the aorta to the IVC and relative hypovolaemia induces tachycardia, and renal failure. The large venous return to the heart causes congestive heart failure.
Massive upper gastro-intestinal bleeding. The AAA may rupture in to the fourth part of the duodenum and this results in massive upper gastro-intestinal bleeding causing hematemesis and even passage of fresh blood per-rectum. Massive upper gastro-intestinal bleeding.
The AAA may rupture in to the fourth part of the duodenum and this results in massive upper gastro-intestinal bleeding causing hematemesis and even passage of fresh blood per-rectum.

Clinicals - Examination

Fact Explanation
Pulsatile abdominal mass The enlarged abdominal aorta can be palpated abdominally especially in thin subjects. A pulsatile mass may not be palpable in obese patients. Pulsatile abdominal mass
The enlarged abdominal aorta can be palpated abdominally especially in thin subjects. A pulsatile mass may not be palpable in obese patients.
Flank ecchymosis (Grey Turner sign) This represents retroperitoneal hemorrhage. Flank ecchymosis (Grey Turner sign)
This represents retroperitoneal hemorrhage.
Features due to the Arterio-Venous Fistula (AVF). Eg: abdominal bruit, tachycardia, congestive heart failure, leg swelling, abdominal bruit, renal failure and peripheral ischemia Due to the turbulent flow of blood across the AVF a bruit can be auscultated.
The relative hypovolaemia due to the shunt of blood from the aorta to the IVC induces tachycardia and causes hypovolaemic renal failure. The overloaded IVC causes leg swelling.
Features due to the Arterio-Venous Fistula (AVF). Eg: abdominal bruit, tachycardia, congestive heart failure, leg swelling, abdominal bruit, renal failure and peripheral ischemia
Due to the turbulent flow of blood across the AVF a bruit can be auscultated.
The relative hypovolaemia due to the shunt of blood from the aorta to the IVC induces tachycardia and causes hypovolaemic renal failure. The overloaded IVC causes leg swelling.
Dilated superficial veins around the umbilicus Due to the obstruction of the IVC the co laterals connecting the IVC and Superior Vena Cava ) dilate. These dilated veins are visible around the umbilicus and called Caput Medusae. Dilated superficial veins around the umbilicus
Due to the obstruction of the IVC the co laterals connecting the IVC and Superior Vena Cava ) dilate. These dilated veins are visible around the umbilicus and called Caput Medusae.
Palpable enlarged kidneys The pressure exerted by the AAA over the ureter causes hydronephrosis. Then the kidneys become palpable as ballotable flank masses. Palpable enlarged kidneys
The pressure exerted by the AAA over the ureter causes hydronephrosis. Then the kidneys become palpable as ballotable flank masses.
Palpable femoral and popliteal artery aneurysms. The association of peripheral aneurysms with aortic aneurysms has been proven. So it is better to examine for femoral and popliteal artery aneurysms in the presence of an AAA and vice versa. Palpable femoral and popliteal artery aneurysms.
The association of peripheral aneurysms with aortic aneurysms has been proven. So it is better to examine for femoral and popliteal artery aneurysms in the presence of an AAA and vice versa.
Features suggestive of Marfan and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes. People with Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are at risk of development of AAA. Features suggestive of Marfan and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes.
People with Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are at risk of development of AAA.
Features of hypovolaemic shock This occurs with the rupture of the AAA. Patients may have cyanosis, mottling, tachycardia and hypotension. Although the patient might be haemodynamically stable there is a possibility of a retroperitoneal rupture of the AAA. So exclusion of ruptured AAA should be done with great caution in patients with back pain and a pulsatile abdominal mass. Features of hypovolaemic shock
This occurs with the rupture of the AAA. Patients may have cyanosis, mottling, tachycardia and hypotension. Although the patient might be haemodynamically stable there is a possibility of a retroperitoneal rupture of the AAA. So exclusion of ruptured AAA should be done with great caution in patients with back pain and a pulsatile abdominal mass.

Investigations - Diagnosis

Fact Explanation
Abdominal X Ray (AXR) An AAA may be visible in AXR if the aneurysm wall is calcified. This finding is reported as being 50% sensitive, and intuition suggests that it is close to 100% specific.
An abnormal aortic silhouette is also in favor of AAA but one can not accurately differentiate an AAA from a dilatation of a vessel.
However this method lacks sensitivity and is unsatisfactory for routine use.
Abdominal X Ray (AXR)
An AAA may be visible in AXR if the aneurysm wall is calcified. This finding is reported as being 50% sensitive, and intuition suggests that it is close to 100% specific.
An abnormal aortic silhouette is also in favor of AAA but one can not accurately differentiate an AAA from a dilatation of a vessel.
However this method lacks sensitivity and is unsatisfactory for routine use.
Ultrasound scan This is the first line investigation for the diagnosis of AAAs, providing accurate assessment of the aneurysm diameter and some information regarding the site.
Although Ultrasound scan is operator dependent, when performed by trained personnel, it has a sensitivity and specificity approaching 100% and 96%.
This can be combined with color Doppler for better results.
Ultrasound scan
This is the first line investigation for the diagnosis of AAAs, providing accurate assessment of the aneurysm diameter and some information regarding the site.
Although Ultrasound scan is operator dependent, when performed by trained personnel, it has a sensitivity and specificity approaching 100% and 96%.
This can be combined with color Doppler for better results.
Computer Tomography (CT) or CT is the first line investigation during preoperative assessment to delineate AAA morphology and the relationship to the visceral and renal arteries.
CT is somewhat more reproducible than ultrasound.
Computer Tomography (CT) or
CT is the first line investigation during preoperative assessment to delineate AAA morphology and the relationship to the visceral and renal arteries.
CT is somewhat more reproducible than ultrasound.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Visualizes the AAA. Not routinely done. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Visualizes the AAA. Not routinely done.
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) Thrombus is readily identified by MRA. Although this information is not important for conventional AAA operations, assessment of intraluminal thrombus may become important in planning endoluminal stent graft placement as the technology is introduced into clinical practice. Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
Thrombus is readily identified by MRA. Although this information is not important for conventional AAA operations, assessment of intraluminal thrombus may become important in planning endoluminal stent graft placement as the technology is introduced into clinical practice.

Investigations - Management

Fact Explanation
USS USS is considered the best investigation for the followup of asymptomatic patients who are not eligible for surgery.
Small AAAs between 3.0 and 4.0 cm in diameter have a low annual risk of rupture, and periodic surveillance with abdominal ultrasonography is appropriate.
USS
USS is considered the best investigation for the followup of asymptomatic patients who are not eligible for surgery.
Small AAAs between 3.0 and 4.0 cm in diameter have a low annual risk of rupture, and periodic surveillance with abdominal ultrasonography is appropriate.
Full blood count When surgery is to be done patient's hemoglobin level should be checked and optimized prior to the surgery if needed.
Raised white blood cells may reflect an inflammatory changes which should be treated prior to the surgery.
Full blood count
When surgery is to be done patient's hemoglobin level should be checked and optimized prior to the surgery if needed.
Raised white blood cells may reflect an inflammatory changes which should be treated prior to the surgery.
Electrocardiogram In patients with significiant risk of cardiovascular disease and in all male patients. Electrocardiogram
In patients with significiant risk of cardiovascular disease and in all male patients.
Blood grouping and cross matching At least six pints of blood should be available prior to the surgery. Blood grouping and cross matching
At least six pints of blood should be available prior to the surgery.
Renal function test Since the surgery is done under general anesthesia renal function should be checked. (Serum electrolytes, blood urea, serum creatinine.) Renal function test
Since the surgery is done under general anesthesia renal function should be checked. (Serum electrolytes, blood urea, serum creatinine.)
Chest X Ray (CXR) CXR should be done in all patients with known lung disease and if needed. Chest X Ray (CXR)
CXR should be done in all patients with known lung disease and if needed.
USS Among asymptomatic patients, ultrasound is a cost effective method which detects the presence of AAA accurately and it is highly reproducible and inexpensive. Sensitivity and specificity are both close to 100% when compared with operative findings. This reduces the mortality from rupture.

In general, ultrasound is an ideal test for mass screening.
USS
Among asymptomatic patients, ultrasound is a cost effective method which detects the presence of AAA accurately and it is highly reproducible and inexpensive. Sensitivity and specificity are both close to 100% when compared with operative findings. This reduces the mortality from rupture.

In general, ultrasound is an ideal test for mass screening.

Management - Supportive

Fact Explanation
Routine USS and watchful waiting This is accepted for asymptomatic AAAs when the morbidity and mortality of surgery is considered significantly higher than the risk of rupture.
The annual incidence of rupture rises from 1% or less in aneurysms that are < 55 mm in diameter to a significant level, perhaps as high as 20%, in those that are 70 mm
in diameter. Assuming elective surgery carries a 5% mortality rate, the balance is in favor of elective operation once the diameter is > 55 mm, provided there is no major co morbidity.
Routine USS and watchful waiting
This is accepted for asymptomatic AAAs when the morbidity and mortality of surgery is considered significantly higher than the risk of rupture.
The annual incidence of rupture rises from 1% or less in aneurysms that are < 55 mm in diameter to a significant level, perhaps as high as 20%, in those that are 70 mm
in diameter. Assuming elective surgery carries a 5% mortality rate, the balance is in favor of elective operation once the diameter is > 55 mm, provided there is no major co morbidity.

Management - Specific

Fact Explanation
Surgery (open or endovascular repair) Large AAAs ≥5.5 cm in diameter have a high annual risk of rupture, and surgical repair is indicated.
Suprarenal aneurysms > 5.5 cm should be corrected with surgery where as infrarenal AAA which are 5.5 cm or larger should undergo surgical correction.
When compared to the open repair, endovascular repair has less operative morbidity, it has significant long-term morbidity and is much more expensive.
Surgery (open or endovascular repair)
Large AAAs ≥5.5 cm in diameter have a high annual risk of rupture, and surgical repair is indicated.
Suprarenal aneurysms > 5.5 cm should be corrected with surgery where as infrarenal AAA which are 5.5 cm or larger should undergo surgical correction.
When compared to the open repair, endovascular repair has less operative morbidity, it has significant long-term morbidity and is much more expensive.

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