An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a "ballooning" or dilatation of the walls of the abdominal aorta, the main artery in the abdomen, due to weakness in the blood vessel. Aneurysms can form in any blood vessel in the body. However, the abdomen is a common place for aneurysms to occur.
Abdominal aneurysms are caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can be caused by high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol and heredity.
AAA's are usually treated with medicines or surgery. X-rays or ultrasound examinations are used to determine the best treatment.
Abdominal aneurysms may grow slowly or quickly. When an aneurysm reaches a certain size, the risk of rupture becomes significant and surgery should be considered.
Related LinksNational Library of Medicine
The National Library of Medicine presents information and pictures about AAA.