Aneurysm is an abnormal bulge or enlargement of a region of the blood vessel or heart. Some of the important aneurysms are listed below:
Left ventricular aneurysms
Left ventricular aneurysms usually occurs after a heart attack. A region of the heart muscle becomes grossly damaged due to lack of blood supply and bulges out when the rest of the heart contracts. It causes wastage of the contractile force of the heart and can lead to heart failure. Blood clots can form in the pouch and can later get dislodged producing embolism. The rim of cells between the aneurysm and the rest of the ventricle can be electrically unstable and produce heart rhythm abnormalities, which can sometimes be life threatening. True aneurysms of the left ventricle seldom rupture.
Aortic aneurysms are bulges in the wall of the aorta (largest blood vessel carrying oxygenated blood to the whole body). They can progressively enlarge and rupture with catastrophic results. The chance of having an aneurysm increases as the age advances. An aneurysm of the aorta inside the tummy is called abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). In some countries, mandatory screening for AAA with ultrasound scan above a certain age has been introduced, for early detection and treatment.
Cerebral aneurysms occur in the blood vessels of the brain. They are often due to birth defects, unlike AAA which develops as age advances. Rupture of cerebral aneurysms can produce life threatening bleeds within the brain or just outside it.
Aneurysms can occur in any of the blood vessels of the body. Sometimes they can be the result of infections which weaken the vessel wall. Trauma to the vessel can also weaken the vessel wall and result in aneurysms later.
What is a false aneurysm (pseudoaneurysm)?
An aneurysm has all the layers of the original structure. But a false aneurysm is actually a contained rupture, which is sealed off by only the outer layer of the structure. These are quite dangerous as they are prone for rupture again and cause sometime fatal bleeding.
Can aneurysms be treated?
Small aortic aneurysms which are not life threatening can be kept under follow up (not false aneurysms, which require immediate treatment). Larger aneurysm can be treated surgically. In case of aortic aneurysms, non surgical treatment by implantation of stent grafts is also available in selected cases. Cerebral aneurysms can be clipped by a neurosurgeon (brain surgeon) to prevent bleeding. Surgical treatment of left ventricular aneurysm is more difficult and not considered in all cases.