It’s a disease that is often called a silent killer, with no warning symptoms until it’s too late. More than 15,000 people a year in the United States die from ruptured aneurysms, the ballooning and weakening of the arterial wall. Aneurysms can occur in most arteries in the body, and if they grow large enough, the aneurysms may lead to rupture, shock, internal bleeding or death.
In the United States, the number of ruptured aneurysms nationwide continues to climb. In the past 30 years, the number of aortic aneurysms nationwide have tripled, making aneurysm screenings and treatments essential for patients.
A new device recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration is helping to treat a specific type of aneurysm — common iliac artery aneurysms, also known as aortoiliac aneurysms.
This type of aneurysm affects a group of arteries located in the pelvis and occurs as a result of bulging and weakness in the wall of the iliac artery. Iliac aneurysms can be caused by infections, trauma from hip or lower-back surgery, or as a result from atherosclerosis, the hardening of a blood vessel as a result of plaque buildup.
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Those at risk for iliac artery aneurysms include people 60 or older, men, those who smoke, and people who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and genetic disorders. Symptoms of iliac artery aneurysms include back pain, lower abdominal pain and groin pain, although symptoms usually do not occur unless the aneurysm is large. Iliac artery aneurysms are usually diagnosed as a result of a screening or other imaging studies, and treatment methods may involve close monitoring, lifestyle changes, medication or surgery.
For those who require treatment, there’s a new device being used to help treat iliac artery aneurysms called the Gore Excluder iliac branch endoprosthesis. Unlike surgery, this procedure inserts stents into blood vessels. This minimally invasive aortic device better allows branch arteries to stay open, instead of being blocked, helping keep blood flow moving to the pelvic area.
This reduces the rate of cramping pain, sexual dysfunction and inflammatory conditions of the large intestine. In the past, previous stents would simply block off all branch arteries, potentially causing the patient future circulation problems.
Medicare now allows for an aneurysm screening, which includes a physical exam and ultrasound of the abdomen, as well as a screening of family history. Those who qualify for Medicare, or with a known family history of vascular disorders, should ask their doctor about having an aneurysm screening.
For those who might need treatment for an iliac artery aneurysm, consult your doctor about IBE to see if it might be right for you. The device is now being used in Kentucky and offers patients quicker healing time. Your physician can help decide if this is the best path for you if you have been diagnosed with this condition.
Dr. Nick Abedi is with KentuckyOne Health Surgery Associates.