When You Visit Your Doctor — Aortic Aneurysm

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 (see p. 140)
  • Abdominal CT scan to evaluate the size and location of the aneurysm (see p. 141)
  • MRI to evaluate the size and location of the aneurysm (see p. 143)
  • Angiography to evaluate the size and location of the aneurysm (see p. 139)
  • If surgery is planned, your doctor may want to evaluate you for the presence of coronary disease. This preoperative assessment may involve an electrocardiogram (see p. 135), an exercise stress test (see p. 660) or an echocardiogram (see p. 665)