An abdominal aortic aneurysm, also called AAA ("triple A"), occurs when the diameter of the part of the aorta running through the abdomen dilates to greater than 3 centimeters. About 90% of AAA's occur in the belly, below the arteries that feed the kidneys.
AAA's should be repaired when the risk of rupture is greater than the risk of repair and a patient is expected to live at least another 1-2 years. Surgery is usually performed once an AAA reaches 5 or 5.5 cm in diameter. Length of an AAA is not a factor in considering surgery.
A thoracic aortic aneurysm, also called TAA, is when the diameter of the part of the aorta running through the chest dilates to greater than 3 centimeters.
Some TAA develop from a weakness in the artery wall, while others develop from an aortic dissection, which is when blood flows in both the normal open channel of the aorta as well as in between the layers of the artery wall.
To learn more, click here to watch a video about abdominal aortic aneurysms.
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