Individuals with descending thoracic or abdominal aortic aneurysms usually do not have symptoms. Aneurysms are commonly found incidentally. It is possible that as the aneurysm enlarges and compresses surrounding nerves or organs, an individual may experience back or abdominal pain.
Patients that experience sudden symptoms such as chest or back pain, characterized as a tearing sensation, nausea, vomiting, a fast heartbeat and possibly the feeling of impending doom, may be experiencing a tear or dissection of the aorta. Left untreated this can lead to rupture and is considered an emergent condition that requires immediate intervention.
Computed tomography or CT scan with or without contrast is the most common imaging study used to evaluate your condition. A CT scan provides valuable information about your aorta, such as the location and size of an aneurysm or dissection. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is another imaging modality to visualize your aortic aneurysm and vessels. Similar to a CT scan with contrast, an MRI or MRA provides detailed information about your aorta. Your surgeon will choose the best method for imaging your aorta.