MSD Manual

Please confirm that you are a health care professional

honeypot link

Peripheral Arterial Aneurysms

By

Koon K. Teo

, MBBCh, PhD, McMaster University

Last full review/revision May 2021| Content last modified May 2021
Click here for Patient Education

Peripheral arterial aneurysms are abnormal dilations of the peripheral arteries caused by weakening of the arterial wall.

Infectious (mycotic) aneurysms may occur in any artery but are most common in the femoral. They are usually due to salmonellae, staphylococci, or Treponema pallidum (which causes syphilitic aneurysm).

Peripheral arterial aneurysms are usually asymptomatic at the time of detection. Thrombosis or embolism (or rarely, aneurysm rupture) causes extremities to be painful, cold, pale, paresthetic, or pulseless. Infectious aneurysms may cause local pain, fever, malaise, and weight loss.

Diagnosis is by ultrasonography, magnetic resonance angiography, or CT. Popliteal aneurysms may be suspected when physical examination detects an enlarged, pulsatile artery; the diagnosis is confirmed by imaging tests.

Risk of rupture of extremity aneurysms is low (< 5% for popliteal and 1 to 14% for iliofemoral aneurysms). For leg artery aneurysms, surgical repair is therefore often elective. It is indicated when the arteries are twice normal size or when the patient is symptomatic. However, surgical repair is indicated for all arm artery aneurysms because serious complications (eg, thromboembolism) are a greater risk. The affected segment of artery is excised and replaced with a graft. Limb salvage rate after surgical repair is 90 to 98% for asymptomatic patients and 70 to 80% for symptomatic patients.

In certain patients, an endovascular stent graft is another option for repair.

Key Points

  • Peripheral arterial aneurysms occur mainly in men; the most common location is the popliteal artery.

  • Complications are rare and include rupture and thromboembolism.

  • Treat lower extremity aneurysms if patients are symptomatic or if the artery is twice normal size; all upper extremity aneurysms should be treated because of the higher risk of serious complications (eg, stroke).

Click here for Patient Education
NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: Click here for the Consumer Version
Professionals also read
Test your knowledge
Stress Testing
During stress testing, the heart is monitored by imaging studies during an induced episode of increased cardiac demand so that areas of possible infarction can be identified. The purpose of cardiac catheterization is similar; however, stress testing is preferred over cardiac catheterization because of which of the following advantages? 
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Become a pro at using our website 

Also of Interest

Become a pro at using our website 
TOP