Watchful Waiting for Aortic Aneurysm

Your NYU Langone doctor may recommend watchful waiting for an aortic aneurysm if it doesn’t appear to be growing quickly and is considered to be small. This means your doctor monitors you for any changes in signs or symptoms.

Most aortic aneurysms are slow growing and don’t reach a size that warrants surgery—typically 5.5 centimeters in width if it is a thoracic aneurysm and 5 to 5.5 centimeters if it is an abdominal aneurysm. Fewer than half of people with abdominal aortic aneurysms require surgery within three years of diagnosis.

During watchful waiting, your doctor monitors the aneurysm with CT or MRI scans every 6 to 12 months to look for changes in its size or shape. You may also be prescribed medications to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol levels, which can help slow the growth of the aneurysm.

If you have any unexplained back, chest, or abdominal pain, it’s important to report it to your doctor immediately and go to the nearest emergency room because you may be experiencing a tear or rupture.

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