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Important Factors with the Other Kind of Aneurysm

It is important that Doctors of Chiropractic understand abdominal aortic aneurysms as they can be life threatening conditions.

As a DC, you may detect an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) on a lateral film of a patient's lumbar spine. The radiograph may show an abnormal projection on the aorta or a calcific rim. This information may provide an early clue and help save a patient's life.

Less than 50% of people with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm survive. The good news is the outcome is usually good when an AAA is monitored carefully and if surgical repair is performed before the aorta ruptures.

Risk Factors

Unfortunately, there are often no symptoms, which makes obtaining an accurate history especially important. The following are risk factors for an AAA:

  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Male
  • More than 55 years of age
  • High blood pressure

To identify an AAA, listen to the patient’s abdomen with a stethoscope. If the patient has an abdominal aortic aneurysm, there may be a pulsating abdominal mass with rhythmic throbbing and a “blowing” murmur over the aorta (a “whooshing” sound). The following tests may help with identification:

  • Abdominal X-ray
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • MRI of the abdomen
  • CT scan of the abdomen
  • Angiography of the aorta

Signs of an Emergent Situation

A rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is a medical emergency. Signs of one in progress include:

  • The abdomen is rigid and there is an abdominal mass with a pulsating sensation.
  • Pain in the abdomen. The pain is severe, sudden, persistent or constant. It is not colicky or spasmodic. It may begin suddenly, then radiate to the groin, buttocks or legs.
  • There is pain in the low back that is severe, sudden and persistent, and the pain may radiate.
  • Skin is pale, clammy and diaphoretic.
  • There is a rapid pulse and unusual heartbeat sensations.
  • Dry skin and/or mouth and excessive thirst.
  • Anxiety, light-headedness with upright posture and nausea and vomiting.
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia) when rising to standing position.
  • Fatigue, shock and impaired ability to concentrate.

In the event of a medical emergency, such as a ruptured AAA, contact EMS in your area. Remain with the patient, keeping him or her as calm and comfortable as possible until 911 personnel arrive.

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