A stomach aneurysm, formally known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm, is an enlargement of the lower area of the aorta, according to Mayo Clinic. The aorta, which is the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the entire body, stretches from the heart to the abdomen.
A ruptured aortic aneurysm is a medical emergency, as explained by Mayo Clinic. It can cause severe, life-threatening bleeding.
Although some abdominal aortic aneurysms expand rapidly, most start out small and grow very slowly, making them difficult to detect. As abdominal aortic aneurysms enlarge, symptoms may include a pulsating feeling around the navel, constant pain deep in the stomach and back pain, according to Mayo Clinic.
The exact cause of abdominal aortic aneurysms is unknown, but risk factors that may play a role include the use of tobacco and atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries that develops when fat accumulates on the lining of blood vessels. In rare instances, abdominal aortic aneurysms occur due to an infection in the aorta, according to Mayo Clinic.
Treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysms varies depending on the size and growth rate of the aneurysm. Doctors often recommend a wait-and-see approach with regular ultrasound monitoring for small abdominal aortic aneurysms, because not all aneurysms burst and the risks from surgery to remove a small aneurysm typically outweigh the risks of rupture. Large, fast-growing abdominal aortic aneurysms require either open abdominal surgery or endovascular surgery, according to Mayo Clinic.