The aorta, the main artery leading from the heart through the abdomen, can become blocked and swell (right) with an aneurysm. A repair may be needed using a special tube called a stent (center). Screening for aneurysms is recommended among relatives of aortic aneurysm patients and is now reimbursable through Medicare.
Relatives of patients who have aneurysms should see their physician to discuss an ultrasound aneurysm screening, Thomas L. Khoury, MD, a vascular and general surgeon on staff at Southern Ohio Medical Center, says.
“In 2007 an ultrasound screening for aneurysm for a relative of another aneurysm patient became available for reimbursement by Medicare,” he says. “Many people who may have thought they could not afford the expense should consider this potentially life-saving measure of detection.”
An aneurysm occurs when an artery swells up (dilates), usually because of a blockage, and can rupture and cause massive bleeding. A common location of aneurysms is in the abdomen, where the aorta, or main artery leading from the heart, can become restricted or partially blocked due to a build-up of plaque.
“A simple ultrasound test, done as an outpatient, can reveal if there is a restriction in the blood flow and aneurysm present,” Dr. Khoury says. “Because many of the factors that contribute to the presence of an aneurysm may be experienced by several members of the same family, relatives of aneurysm patients should get checked out.”
Common risk factors for aneurysm include a family history of heart or vascular disease or aneurysms, and lifestyle factors often common in families, such as sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and poor diet.
Dr. Khoury urges relatives of aneurysm patients to discuss an ultrasound screening with their physician. A surgeon with more than 15 years’ experience in vascular procedures, Dr. Khoury regularly repairs aneurysms and recalls a recent case that resulted in a family member getting checked out.
“A first-degree relative of an aneurysm patient of mine got a screening,” he explains. “An aneurysm was found and he underwent surgical repair the next week. The detection definitely saved his life. If an aneurysm ruptures, the massive bleeding is fatal without swift emergency intervention.”
For more information, Dr. Khoury can be reached at Southern Ohio Surgical Associates, (740) 353-8661.