A stomach aneurysm is a swelling in the section of the aorta, one of the major blood vessels in the body, that passes through the abdomen. This condition is also known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm or AAA, and it can be a life threatening medical issue. If the aneurysm ruptures, the patient can be at risk of death if treatment is not provided immediately. The warning signs of this condition are often subtle and may only appear when the swollen vessel is about to rupture. Regular visits to the doctor can help people identify stomach aneurysms early.
Aneurysms can occur throughout the body. In all cases, a blood vessel swells, and the pressure on the swollen vessel weakens the walls. Blood and fluid may leak into the surrounding tissues, and there is a risk the vessel could rupture altogether. When a major blood vessel is involved, this can result in massive blood loss. In the case of the aorta, the largest artery in the body, rupture can be fatal in a matter of minutes.
The causes of stomach aneurysm are not well understood. The condition is more common in men over the age of 60, and some things seem to be risk factors, including smoking. The swelling most commonly occurs around the area of the kidneys. Symptoms can include pain and tenderness in the abdomen, along with a pulsing sensation. Medical imaging studies will reveal the swollen vessel and can provide an indication about how serious the case is.
As long as a stomach aneurysm remains intact, it is not a significant health risk. The concern is aortic dissection, where the walls of the aorta essentially shred under pressure, rupturing and releasing high volumes of blood. The recommended treatment for an AAA is surgery, but surgery can also increase the risk of rupture. When a patient is diagnosed, the physician needs to weigh the risks of surgery with the risks of not treating at all, taking the location and size of the aneurysm into account, along with the patient's general health. A watchful waiting approach to treatment may be recommended if there is a belief that it is not at immediate risk of rupture.
If someone with a stomach aneurysm experiences a rupture, the patient will feel faint and dizzy, and may lose consciousness. Medical attention should be provided immediately and first responders should be informed that the patient has a stomach aneurysm.