An aneurysm is a sac formed by dilation of an artery secondary to weakness and stretching of the arterial wall. The dilation may involve one or all layers of the arterial wall.


  1. Fusiform: uniform spindle shape involving the entire circumference of the artery
  2. Saccular: outpouching on one side only, affecting only part of the arterial circumference
  3. Dissecting: separation of the arterial wall layers to form a cavity that fills with blood
  4. False: the vessel wall is disrupted, blood escapes into surrounding area but is held in place by surrounding tissue.
Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
  1. General information
    1. An aneurysm, usually fusiform or dissecting, in the descending, ascending, or transverse section of the thoracic aorta.
    2. Usually occurs in men ages 50-70
    3. Caused by arteriosclerosis, infection, syphilis, hypertension
  2. Medical management
    1. Control of underlying hypertension
    2. Surgery: resection of the aneurysm and replacement with a Teflon/Dacron graft; clients will need extracorporeal circulation (heart-lung machine).
  3. Assessment findings
    1. Often asymptomatic
    2. Deep, diffuse chest pain; hoarseness; dysphagia; dyspnea
    3. Pallor, diaphoresis, distended neck veins, edema of head and arms
    4. Diagnostic tests
      1. Aortography shows exact location of the aneurysm
      2. X-rays: chest film reveals abnormal widening of aorta; abdominal film may show calcification within walls of aneurysm
  4. Nursing interventions: see Cardiac Surgery.


K said...

Thanks for the information on aneurysms.

We recently wrote an article on intracranial aneurysms at Brain Blogger. An intracranial aneurysm can be defined as a thin sac that develops in the brain through the swelling of a weakened blood vessel. Current treatment for intracranial aneurysms are extremely risky, however a new, less invasive treatment is in the works.

We would like to read your comments on our article. Thank you.