Most abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) are asymptomatic, not detectible on physical examination, and silent until discovered during radiologic testing for other reasons. AAA is a relatively common and often fatal condition that primarily affects older patients. AAAs cause more than 15,000 deaths yearly, and in 2000 was the 10th leading cause of death in white men 65 to 74 years of age in the United States. Ultrasound is the preferred method of screening. Repair is indicated when the aneurysm becomes greater than 5.5 cm in diameter or grows more than 0.6 cm per year. Asymptomatic patients with an AAA should be medically optimized before repair, including institution of beta-blockers. The mortality rate approaches 90 percent if rupture occurs outside of the hospital.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute