Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA)

Causes and symptoms of bulges in abdominal blood vessels

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

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

  • What are the symptoms of an aneurysm? icon plus

    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.
  • How is an abdominal aortic aneurysm diagnosed? icon plus

    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:
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    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 consultants

We're proud to work with leading vascular, cardiac and general surgeons specialising in problems of the vascular system, and whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to diagnostic tests and procedures, we provide exceptional cardiac care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Request an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

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020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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