Aortic Aneurysm - Medical Negligence Lawyers

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Aortic Aneurysm - Medical Negligence

An aortic aneurysm is a bulging area in the aorta, the main artery that leads from the heart to the rest of the body. Because the aorta is a long artery, aneurysms can form in the thorax, near the heart or in the descending part of the aorta. Aneurysms can also happen to the abdominal aorta. Aneurysms occur most commonly in the abdominal area and secondarily to the arch of the thoracic area. Aneurysms can be dangerous because they can be overstretched and can rupture, often leading to death. Failre to diagnose or properly treat an aortic aneurysm many be as a result of medical negligence. If you have any concerns about your treatment, please use the helpline to speak to an aortic aneurysm medical negligence lawyer at no cost and with no further obligation.

What is the cause of aortic aneurysms? Most of the problem stems from the elasticity of blood vessels. The elasticity allows for stretching and contracting according to the flow of blood. Some health conditions, like atherosclerosis and high blood pressure, weaken the walls of the arteries. Over time, there is wear and tear on the arteries and the aorta becomes weak and bulges outward.

Often, aortic aneurysms often have no symptoms in the beginning. The doctor will find them on examination. Ultrasounds can find bulging aneurysms. When there are symptoms, there is often pain in the chest, abdomen, or back. Symptoms can be constant or can be intermittent. When an aneurysm ruptures, there is loss of blood pressure, dizziness, pain and death that can happen in minutes.

In the bulging aspect of the aneurysm, blood often slows. Clots can form that can break off, causing an embolic stroke in the brain. In the abdomen, such blood clots travel to the legs, interfering with leg blood flow.

Aneurysms are often diagnosed with an ultrasound screening test. It can help one know if the aneurysm exists before symptoms show up. There are expert screening recommendations for men with the following situations:

  • Are aged 65-75 and have at one time smoked.
  • Are 60 years of age or older and have a first degree relative who had an aneurysm.

Women and men who have never smoked are in a low risk category. Those who are at risk have a thoracic and abdominal ultrasound. Other screening tests include a CT scan of the chest and abdomen and an MRI.

Treatment of an aortic aneurysm depends on its size, location and speed of growth. Fast growing aneurysms need surgery in which the surgeon repairs the aneurysm and replaces the damaged area with a stent or graft. Fortunately, small aneurysms hardly ever rupture and patients are treated with medications for high blood pressure, including beta blockers. If surgery is not needed, screening ultrasound tests will be repeated about every year. Patients will be asked to eat healthy, exercise and take medications for elevated cholesterol.

The main complication of a thoracic aneurysm of the aorta is getting a tear in the wall of the aorta. This is called aortic dissection. It can lead to rupture of the aorta and a life-threatening condition. The bigger the aneurysm, the greater is the chance that it will rupture.

When the aortic aneurysm has burst in the chest, patients will note:

  • Pain radiating into the area of the back.
  • Sudden and intense chest pain.
  • Problems breathing.
  • Blood pressure drops.
  • Weakness and possible paralysis suggestive of a stroke.
  • Loss of consciousness.

There can be aortic dissection and rupture as a main complication of an aneurysm of the thoracic aorta. Surgeons can fail to diagnose the aneurysm and this can lead to worsening of symptoms or sudden death. There is also a risk of complications stemming from blood clots breaking off from within the aneurysm. Thoracic aortic aneurysms are likely to cause stroke symptoms.

Sign and symptoms of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm include:

  • Sudden abdominal or low back pain.
  • Clamminess and Sweatiness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Being dizzy.
  • Having a fast pulse.
  • Losing consciousness.

Blood clot problems in the abdominal aorta usually affect the kidneys, legs and toes.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here