Your aorta is the main artery that circulates blood from your heart down into your legs. Sometimes, the wall of the aorta becomes weak, ballooning out to form an aneurysm.

photo of surgeon

Over time, blood puts more pressure on the aortic walls, making them weaker and weaker. An aneurysm can suddenly rupture, leading to a life-threatening situation that requires emergency care.

At University of Missouri Health Care, our experienced physicians provide comprehensive care for all heart conditions, including abdominal aortic aneurysms. We help prevent ruptured aneurysms by using advanced cardiac imaging techniques to perform targeted screenings, as well as the latest minimally invasive treatments. 

Risk factors and screenings

Abdominal aortic aneurysms can occur in anyone but are more likely in certain groups of people. They are usually caused by hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis) that occurs with aging or by unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking. In rare cases, genetic conditions, infections or injuries can also cause aneurysms.

Your physician can’t detect abdominal aortic aneurysms in a normal physical exam. Your doctor may recommend that you have a screening if you are a man between ages 65 and 75, especially if you have ever smoked cigarettes.

To screen for aneurysms, MU Health Care physicians use safe, radiation-free ultrasound technology to examine your abdomen. This noninvasive screening allows your physician to spot and measure any bulges in your aorta.

Minimally invasive treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysm

Based on the size of your aneurysm and how fast it grows, your MU Health Care physician may suggest different personalized treatment plans. For small aneurysms, your doctor may suggest that you manage your blood pressure and keep a careful watch on the aneurysm through regular ultrasounds.

For larger aneurysms, you may need surgery to prevent a life-threatening rupture. Expert MU Health Care Heart and Vascular surgeons perform the latest minimally invasive surgeries to repair aneurysms. These surgeries have faster recovery times than traditional surgeries, meaning you spend less time in the hospital and get back to your regular activities.

During minimally invasive surgery, our experienced surgeons make a small incision in your groin. Using X-ray guidance, your surgeon threads a tiny plastic tube, called a catheter, through the incision and into your aorta. Then, using specialized tools, they close off the aneurysm from blood flow, preventing a rupture. 

We repair aneurysms in our advanced hybrid operating room. In this room, your surgeon can perform a minimally invasive procedure or a traditional open surgery depending on your individual needs. Our hybrid operating rooms use the latest imaging technology and tools to help achieve successful surgical outcomes.