Dear Dr. Roach: A couple of years ago, I had an abdominal ultrasound, and I was told I had an abdominal aortic aneurism (5.2 cm). A month ago, I had another ultrasound, and the aneurism is now 6.4 cm. Is this something that may need treatment? I’m 82. — W.H.
Answer: The aorta is the largest blood vessel in your body, taking all the blood from your heart and delivering it to your body.
An aneurism is a weak spot in the wall, causing it to expand like a tire. The larger the aneurism, the higher the risk of rupture. The risk is very low below 5 cm, but it goes up rapidly when the aneurism is larger than 5.5 cm. Yours is now at a point where the risk for rupture is high (about 10 percent likely in the next year), and most surgeons would strongly urge you to undergo elective repair as soon as possible. Sometimes these can be repaired endovascularly (through the blood vessel, not by opening up the abdomen), and this may be less risky, especially since you are in your 80s.
Because of the large size, and because it has grown significantly in the past couple of years, I would strongly advise consulting with a vascular surgeon to discuss your options as soon as possible.