When You Visit Your Doctor - Aortic Aneurysm

The Family Health Guide

Aortic Aneurysm

Questions to Discuss with Your Doctor:

  • What tests have been done to measure the size of your aneurysm?
  • How large is it?
  • Has it increased in size?
  • Do you have pain in your abdomen or back?
  • How long have you had this pain?
  • What brings it on?
  • How long does it last?
  • Are you doing everything possible to address the risk factors that can worsen this disease (smoking cessation, treating elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, and controlling diabetes)?
  • What medications are you taking to control your risk factors?
  • Are you taking them regularly?
  • Are you having side effects?
  • Should you be taking a daily aspirin?
  • Do you have any other medical problems?
  • Have you had a stroke or heart attack? These are important in determining your risk of surgery to repair the aneurysm.
  • Do you know when you should be referred to a vascular surgeon? (Be sure to ask how often the surgeon performs this operation).
  • Do you get chest pain or pressure with exertion or at rest? If so, you may have coronary artery disease.
  • Do you have sudden brief episodes of blindness (like a shade being pulled over your eyes) or sudden episodes of weakness in an arm or leg, or difficulty speaking? These could be warning symptoms of stroke.
  • Do you get short of breath when you lie down or exert yourself?
  • Do you awaken in the middle of the night short-of-breath?
  • Do your ankles swell? If so, you may have congestive heart failure.
  • Do you get pain in your leg muscles when you walk? If so, you may have peripheral vascular disease.

Your Doctor Might Examine the Following Body Structures or Functions:

  • Heart rate, blood pressure, weight
  • Abdomen (palpate the aneurysm to assess the size and tenderness of the aneurysm)
  • Neck and limb arteries (for abnormal noises and strength of the arterial pulsation)
  • Heart and lungs

Your Doctor Might Order the Following Lab Tests or Studies:

  • Blood tests to evaluate your kidney function
  • Abdominal ultrasound to assess the size and location of the aneurysm
  • Abdominal CT scan to evaluate the size and location of the aneurysm (
  • MRI to evaluate the size and location of the aneurysm
  • Angiography to evaluate the size and location of the aneurysm
  • If surgery is planned, your doctor may want to evaluate you for the presence of coronary disease. This preoperative assessment may involve an electrocardiogram, an exercise stress test or an echocardiogram.