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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

What is an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a serious condition where a blood vessel expands or balloons outward. Aneurysms occur when a weakness develops in the wall of the blood vessel, allowing blood flow to push it outward beyond its normal size. It can burst and cause excessive bleeding if untreated. 

Aneurysms can occur in any blood vessel, including the abdominal aorta, or the large blood vessel that supplies blood to the legs, pelvis, and abdomen, and also major organs like the intestines, liver, and kidneys. This blood vessel is the largest artery in your body – when a weak spot on the aorta expands abnormally, it can develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). AAAs can rupture and cause massive internal bleeding.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

AAAs are more common in men, and age is one of the most significant risk factors. Men over 60 have a
higher risk of developing AAAs. Additionally, the following can impact your risk:

  • Having an immediate relative with a history of AAA
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking

It’s thought that inflammation may play a role in AAAs, which may cause the wall of the blood vessel to break down over time. Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) may also play a role. AAAs do not cause noticeable symptoms at first. Some patients report a pulsing feeling in the abdomen, similar to a heartbeat. There may be sudden and severe pain in the stomach or lower back – in this case, the AAA may be about to rupture, and emergency medical attention is needed.

In the case of a rupture, you may suddenly feel weak, dizzy, and even unconscious. It’s typically accompanied by severe back pain. This is a life-threatening situation, meaning AAAs should be treated as soon as possible to avoid rupture.

“Dr. Julien and his people are the most cohesive, personable and professional I’ve ever come across. From the time I walk in to when I leave I feel like they care about me. The result is good healing.”

– James R.

“Dr. Julien and his people are the most cohesive, personable and professional I’ve ever come across. From the time I walk in to when I leave I feel like they care about me. The result is good healing.”

– Josh R.

“Staff is awesome! Extremely knowledgeable & professional. They explained every step to me and spent plenty of time to answer my questions.”

– Anthony P.

“I was referred to Dr. W. Julian by my PCP and very happy that I was. Dr. Julian found a clogged artery that could have been life threatening if left untreated. My experience from consult to discharge was met courtesy, warmth and professionalism which helped me through my procedure. Sean greeted me and my son who explained the whole process and what to expect. I was also looked after by Josh, Jackie and Reuben who could not have been more supportive or communicative through this adventure.”

– Lorette K.

“The whole staff were very professional and very helpful in navigating me through every procedure, treatments and follow ups. I would certainly recommend South Florida Vascular Associates.”

– Don S.

“I have been very impressed by the way this office functions. Each and every person I’ve encountered has been very personable and professional. I’ve had minimal wait times before being seen. The tests I’ve had were done efficiently and results explained to me quickly. I would highly recommend this office.”

– Robert G.

“All of the staff were friendly, courteous, and professional. Examination and consultation were thorough and expedited in a timely manner. I felt relaxed throughout the visit and all my medical questions and concerns were met and answered to my satisfaction. Would recommend this office to anyone seeking vascular care.”

– Felix G.

“I highly recommend this office for any vascular procedure you may need. The staff are awesome. They were very considerate and professional. My procedures were all a success and I am very happy with the end result. Top marks on everything.”

– Todd H.

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How is an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Diagnosed?

AAAs are seen through imaging such as an abdominal ultrasound or CT scan – sometimes unintentionally while screening for other conditions. Our team at South Florida Vascular Associates can guide you through the imaging process and determine the next treatment steps based on your results.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Treatment Options

Your treatment options for an AAA will depend on the results of your imaging. If the AAA is small and unlikely to rupture, it will be recommended to simply wait and re-screen regularly. If the AAA is more significant and begins to grow or cause symptoms, an endovascular aneurysm repair procedure can help prevent a rupture.

This minimally invasive procedure involves placing a stent graft. This strengthens the artery and allows blood to flow through without adding pressure. Many of our patients prefer this over a traditional open repair which requires a hospital stay. We perform groundbreaking, minimally-invasive endovascular aneurysm repair at our state-of-the-art suite with a comfortable, outpatient spa setting here at South Florida Vascular Associates.

Schedule a Consultation

To meet with our providers, schedule a consultation today at our Plantation, Boynton Beach, and Coconut Creek locations serving the greater Southeast Florida area. Contact us online and request an appointment or call our offices to learn more.


William Julien, MD

Board-Certified Vascular Interventional Physician


Mana Khatkar, PA-C

Certified Physician Assistant


Anissa Rodriguez, NP-C

Certified Nurse Practitioner


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of a leaking abdominal aortic aneurysm?

Pain in the abdomen or back, fainting, dizziness, nausea, high heart rate, and shock are all common symptoms of a leaking abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Can an abdominal aortic aneurysm affect the bowels?

This condition is an infrequent cause of intestinal obstruction.

What can be mistaken for an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

Common misdiagnoses include gastrointestinal hemorrhage, diverticulitis, and renal colic.

What are the troubles of a misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis can delay your treatment, causing the condition and your health to worsen. This can lead to aortic dissection.

How are abdominal aortic aneurysms diagnosed?

Your doctor can notice an aortic aneurysm on your heart examination during your regular doctor's check-up appointment.