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Aortic Abdominal Aneurysm

Your Abdominal Aorta is the major blood vessel supplying your body with oxygenated blood and an aortic aneurysm is a localised ballooning or widening of this vessel. 

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • A deep, boring pain found mainly in your stomach and back
  • Pain tends to be constant but may be relived by changing position
  • Some aneurysms cause a prominent pulsing sensation in your stomach
  • Sudden onset of symptoms may cause severe pain, rapid breathing and shock

Description

Your Abdominal Aorta is the major blood vessel supplying your body with oxygenated blood and an aortic aneurysm is a localised ballooning or widening of this vessel. It usually affects people between 65 and 75 years of age, and is more common in men and smokers. Most people suffer no symptoms, but some may feel pain into the abdomen or back (due to pressure of the ballooning vessel on the surrounding tissues) or suffer restricted blood supply into the legs.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm can rupture and bleed into the abdomen, this can be fatal. A scan (ultrasound or CT) in combination with your history is the more reliable way to diagnose an aortic aneurysm. If in doubt or worried see your doctor.

What to do next...

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is treated by addressing the risk factors ie. stopping smoking, and medical monitoring of your blood pressure and aneurysm diameter. Surgical repair is an option but is associated with many risk factors due to the delicate nature of the surgery as well as other medical factors often seen in sufferers. If your symptoms begin suddenly ie severe pain, rapid breathing or shock GO TO A&E

Cauda Equina Syndrome

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Severe low back pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the groin area (also called saddle anaesthesia/paresthesia)
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control (inability to urinate (wee) or incontinence)
  • Sexual problems (dysfunction) that occurred suddenly
  • Pain, loss of sensation or weakness/ clumsiness in one or both legs

Description

Symptoms are caused by compression of the bundle of nerves originating from the bottom of your spinal cord. This is most commonly caused by a large disc prolapse which bulges into the area around your spinal cord (spinal canal) and compresses your spinal cord. This compression can also be caused by tumours, cysts, severe bony degeneration or excessive bleeding into the spinal canal. Prolonged compression of these nerves can lead to permanent damage and paralysis of the legs.

Advice & Treatment

Cauda equina can be confirmed by an MRI or CT scan and surgery to take the pressure off the nerves is usually the best option.
Rehabilitation is individual as it depends on the symptoms and signs you have following surgery. Recovery depends on the severity of the compression and how long your nerves were affected. In severe cases it may take years to recover but, at worst, some never recover.

True cauda equina is an urgent medical emergency. If you suspect you have this, GO TO A&E NOW.

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