Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 5/21/2020

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an abnormal enlargement or bulging of the aorta (the main large artery that carries blood away from the heart) in the portion of the aorta located within the abdominal cavity.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm often does not cause any symptoms. When it does cause symptoms or signs, these can include

  • back or flank pain,
  • severe or worsening abdominal pain,
  • a pulsating abdominal mass, or
  • feeling a pulse near the bellybutton.

The major complication of an aortic aneurysm is rupture of the aneurysm, which is often fatal.

Cause of abdominal aortic aneurysm

Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is the most common cause of the condition, and smoking is the major risk factor for abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Other abdominal aortic aneurysm symptoms and signs


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.