Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA)


Our experts can explain the symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysms and offer advice on the treatments available

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What is an aneurysm?

An aneurysm occurs when the wall of a blood vessel weakens, causing it to bulge (swell). This can be dangerous if it gets bigger and ruptures (bursts).

There are several different types of aneurysm, including:

Need to know

In most cases, there are no obvious symptoms and, of course, it often depends where in the body the aneurysm is located.

If you have an abdominal aneurysm that becomes large, you may experience a pulsating (vibrating) feeling in your abdomen (tummy) or back pain.

If an aneurysm ruptures, it causes internal bleeding and is life threatening. You or someone should call 999 if you experience sudden severe pain, feel cold, sweaty, faint and breathless or lose consciousness.

Aneurysms are often diagnosed by GPs or consultants during physical examinations. They may feel a pulsating bulge in your abdomen that indicates an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Your GP or consultant will review your medical and family history and do some tests which might include:

  • Ultrasound scan
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • X-ray

Your consultant will discuss the best treatment for you. This will depend on what kind of aneurysm you have.

Your consultant may recommend surgery to stop it getting bigger or rupturing (bursting).

There are two treatment options available:

  • Open surgery. Using a scalpel, a cut is made in your skin and the damaged part of the aorta (blood vessel) is removed and replaced with a graft (tube).
  • Endovascular surgery (type of keyhole surgery). This involves a graft (stent) being inserted into your blood vessel through small cuts made in your skin and placed inside the aneurysm.

Our Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) locations

London Neurosurgery Partnership

London Neurosurgery Partnership

78 Harley Street W1G 7HJ London
The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.