Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm


The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It runs through the chest cavity (where it is called the thoracic aorta), all the way down through the abdomen (where it is called the abdominal aorta). The abdominal aorta supplies oxygen-rich blood to the lower part of the body.

If the walls of the aortic become weak or injured, the artery may not be able to handle the normal force of blood pressing against it. This may result in a balloon-like bulge in the artery, known as an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA).

AAAs are a health risk because they can burst or rupture. A ruptured aneurysm can cause severe internal bleeding, which can lead to shock or even death. Fortunately, especially when diagnosed early before it causes symptoms, an AAA can be effectively treated, or even cured, with the latest innovative treatment options.


Symptoms & Risk Factors

Most people are unaware that they have an aortic aneurysm because in most cases, there are no symptoms. However, as an aneurysm grows, symptoms may include:

  • A pulsing feeling in your abdomen, similar to a heartbeat
  • Severe, sudden pain in your abdomen or lower back. If this is the case, your aneurysm may be about to burst
  • On rare occasions, your feet may develop pain, discoloration, or sores on the toes or feet


A ruptured aneurysm usually produces sudden, severe pain and other symptoms such as loss of consciousness or shock, depending on the location of the aneurysm and the amount of bleeding. A ruptured aneurysm requires immediate emergency treatment. This is a life-threatening situation and you should seek medical attention immediately.

There are certain factors that increase a person’s risk for aortic aneurysm:

  • Smoking
  • Heredity (family history of aneurysm)
  • Congenital defects
  • Certain Injuries & Infection s
  • High cholesterol and/or High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Arteriosclerosis


If you have any of the above risk factors, it’s important to speak with your physician about whether you should be screened for AAA.


Screening & Diagnosis

If you have any symptoms or risk factors of aortic aneurysm, it’s important to see a cardiologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease, such as the experts at the Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute.

At Hoag, our multidisciplinary team of cardiovascular experts specializes in vascular disease with the latest technologies available to accurately diagnose and treat the full spectrum of vascular disorders and other cardiovascular problems. Learn more about the ground-breaking imaging technologies available at Hoag.

Find out if you qualify for a free abdominal ultrasound AAA screening.

Active Surveillance & Screening

Some individuals diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm may not need surgery or surgery right away. Instead, the team at the Elaine & Robert Matranga Aortic Center will track these patients, using active surveillance, to monitor the size of their aneurysm and watch for signs of growth over time. But as the aneurysm grows – the risk for rupture or dissection also increases. Learn more about our Active Surveillance Program here.

Treatment Options

As a recognized leader in state-of-the-art vascular disease care, Hoag’s multidisciplinary team of cardiovascular experts provides the most advanced vascular disease treatment options available with clinical outcomes that rival national figures. Learn more about innovative minimally invasive treatment options available at Hoag, including ground-breaking hybrid procedures.

Experience You Can Trust

Hoag’s cardiovascular surgeons are among the highest-volume surgeons in Southern California. They are both highly experienced and highly skilled in the latest techniques and procedures for treating aortic aneurysm, as well as dedicated to providing the most advanced patient-centered care.

Learn more about the Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute’s top-rated vascular disease program: