Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

  • Vascular Surgery
  • Medical Center Campus
  • Main Pavilion, Level 5
  • 111 Colchester Avenue
    Burlington, VT, 05401
  • Phone: 802-847-4548
  • 1-877-817-5030
  • Monday-Friday, 8 AM-5 PM
  • Directions

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs when a weakened area of the abdominal aorta (the largest artery in the abdomen) expands or bulges.

The exact cause of abdominal aortic aneurysms is unknown, but several factors can increase your risk of developing them, including:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Age - the risk increases as you age
  • Family history - parent or sibling with AAA

Diagnosis of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA)

Abdominal aortic aneurysms have been called a "silent killer" because they often do not cause symptoms. Patients with symptoms may experience a pulsing feeling in the abdomen or an unexplained severe pain in the abdomen or lower back.

The process of diagnosis may involve the following:

  • Abdominal ultrasound - This test uses sound waves to produce a video image of your vessels to check for a potential aneurysm. At Fletcher Allen, we offer this test in our non-invasive diagnostic laboratory, located in our Vascular Surgery offices, to provide greater convenience for patients.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scan - Fletcher Allen offers the most advanced CT technology available today, providing comprehensive images of organs within seconds with a high degree of accuracy. A CT scan may be recommended if your aneurysm has grown to a certain size to determine if it needs to be repaired.

Treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA)

Treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysms involves either regular monitoring or surgery. The treatment that is right for you will depend upon the size, shape, and growth patterns of your aneurysm.


If your AAA is small, regular observation and monitoring may be all that is required. Fletcher Allen vascular surgeons will monitor your aneurysm on a regular basis with periodic ultrasounds to detect any changes in size.

If you have high blood pressure, blood pressure medication may be prescribed by your primary care physician to reduce pressure on the weakened area of the aorta.


Open Repair

With an open surgical repair, your vascular surgeon will make an incision in your abdomen and replace the weakened part of your aorta with a synthetic tube-like device called a graft. The graft takes the place of the weakened part of the aorta and allows blood to pass easily.

Endovascular AAA Repair

This is a less invasive procedure known as endovascular AAA repair (EVAR). With this surgery, vascular surgeons place a fabric and metal tube called a stent graft (or endograft) into the weakened aorta. The endovascular stent graft strengthens the weakened section of the aorta to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.

Find a Fletcher Allen physician or call 802-847-4548.