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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)
Aorta: AAA
What is it?

An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery, usually the aorta. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) affects the segment of the aorta that runs through the abdomen.

Who gets it?

Abdominal aortic aneurysm is common in older adults. There appears to be a genetic link because this type of aneurysm tends to run in families. People who smoke cigarettes are more likely to die from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm than non-smokers.

What causes it?

Abdominal aortic aneurysm usually occurs in people with atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries. As the arteries harden, the wall of the aorta is damaged and weakened. The pressure of the blood flow inside the aorta causes the weakened wall to bulge outward. High blood pressure also contributes to weakened aortic walls.

What are the symptoms?

Abdominal aortic aneurysm may not cause any symptoms at first. When symptoms do occur, they include a pulsing sensation in the abdomen, and pain ranging from mild to severe. Pain may be located in the abdominal, back, or groin area. Sudden, excruciating pain in the lower abdomen and back pain usually indicates a ruptured aorta, which needs to be treated immediately.

What is the treatment?

Treatment depends upon the size of the aneurysm. The surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen, removes the aneurysm, and repairs it with a synthetic patch, called a graft. This type of surgery has a very high success rate. There is also another type of surgery called endovascular grafting, which involves inserting a thin tube called a catheter through a groin artery into the abdominal aorta. If a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm is not treated, it always results in death.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are generally benign. The cause of this condition is not known.
For many people, there are no symptoms and varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern. In some cases, they cause aching pain and discomfort or signal an underlying circulatory problem.
Treatment involves compression stockings, exercise, or procedures to close or remove the veins.

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery stenosis is the narrowing of the carotid arteries. These are the main arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain. Carotid artery stenosis, also called carotid artery disease, is a major risk factor for ischemic stroke. The narrowing is usually caused by plaque in a blood vessel.

Signs and Symptoms

Carotid artery stenosis may or may not cause symptoms. A doctor may hear an abnormal sound when listening to the artery with a stethoscope. The stenosis can be easily detected with an ultrasound probe placed on the side of the neck near the carotid arteries.


Depending on the degree of stenosis and the patient's overall condition, carotid artery stenosis can usually be treated with surgery. It removes the plaque that caused the carotid artery to narrow. For people with arteries narrowed less than 50 percent, anti-clotting medicine is usually prescribed to reduce the risk of ischemic stroke.

Carotid angioplasty may be another treatment option. It uses balloons and/or stents to open a narrowed artery.

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Carotid Endarterectomy

Carotid endarterectomy is an operation during which your vascular surgeon removes the inner lining of your carotid artery if it has become thickened or damaged. This procedure eliminates a substance called plaque from your artery and can restore blood flow. To remove plaque in your carotid arteries and help prevent a stroke, your physician may recommend a carotid endarterectomy. Carotid endarterectomy is one of the most commonly performed vascular operations, and is a safe and long-lasting treatment.

Hernia Repair

Inguinal hernia repair is surgery to repair a hernia in your groin. A hernia is tissue that bulges out of a weak spot in the abdominal wall. Your intestine may bulge out through this weakened area. During surgery to repair the hernia, the bulging tissue is pushed back in. Your abdominal wall is strengthened and supported with sutures (stitches), and sometimes mesh. This repair can be done with open or laparoscopic surgery. You and your surgeon can discuss which type of surgery is right for you. Your doctor may suggest hernia surgery if you have pain or your hernia bothers you during your everyday activities. If the hernia is not causing you problems, you may not need surgery. However, these hernias most often do not go away on their own, and they may get larger.
Sometimes the intestine can be trapped inside the hernia. This is called an incarcerated or strangulated hernia. It can cut off blood supply to the intestines. This can be life-threatening. If this happens, you would need emergency surgery.

American Board of Surgery
National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners
American Osteopathic Association
American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
American College of Osteopathic Surgeons