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What is a pseudoaneurysm?

A pseudoaneurysm, or false aneurysm, is swelling of the wall of the artery. The swelling is caused by a small hole that has not sealed. A pseudoaneurysm can happen in any artery. It may become a medical emergency because the pseudoaneurysm can rupture.

What causes or increases my risk for a pseudoaneurysm?

  • Heart catheterization or a heart attack
  • An injury that damages an artery
  • An infection, such as tuberculosis or pneumonia
  • A blood clot in your lung, or lung cancer
  • Older age, or being a woman
  • A medical condition such as obesity, high blood pressure, or end-stage renal disease

How is a pseudoaneurysm diagnosed and treated?

Your healthcare provider will use an ultrasound to check the artery for leaking blood. A small pseudoaneurysm may close on its own in about 4 weeks. You may need any of the following to treat a pseudoaneurysm that does not close:

  • Debridement is a procedure used to remove dead tissue. You may need this if the area around your pseudoaneurysm becomes infected.
  • Compression is a procedure that may be used if the pseudoaneurysm is in your leg. Your healthcare provider will place a device over the pseudoaneurysm and apply pressure. He may hold the pressure for 10 to 15 minutes. You may need to have this procedure a few times.
  • Medicine called thrombin may be injected into the sac to help seal the leak. You may need an arterial duplex scan 24 hours after the injection. An arterial duplex scan is an ultrasound used to check inside arteries. The scan helps make sure the leak is sealed and the injection did not cause artery damage.
  • Surgery may be used to repair the leak. Your healthcare provider may stitch the artery leak closed, or he may place a patch to seal it. He may need to bypass the artery (direct blood so it does not flow into the artery).

What can I do to manage or prevent a pseudoaneurysm?

  • Limit activity if the pseudoaneurysm has not ruptured. Your healthcare provider may want to monitor the pseudoaneurysm for up to 4 weeks to see if it closes. He may tell you to limit your activity to lower your risk for rupture.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause blood vessel and lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Control high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk that the pseudoaneurysm will burst. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you limit the amount of sodium (salt) you have every day. You may also need to take your blood pressure and keep a record of the numbers. You may also need to take medicine to control your blood pressure.

  • Reach or maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight increases your risk for a pseudoaneurysm. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. He can help you create a healthy weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Alcohol and illegal drugs such as cocaine can increase your blood pressure. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, beans, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy products. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can help you create a meal plan to help control high blood pressure or cholesterol. You may also need to limit sodium (salt).
  • Exercise as directed. Exercise can help control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Ask your healthcare provider how much exercise you need each day and which exercises are best for you.

Call 911 if:

  • You have chest pain.
  • You have any bleeding in the pseudoaneurysm area.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have shortness of breath.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have swelling or pain near the artery site.
  • You have numbness or pain in your arm or leg.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have sudden or more pain in your groin.
  • Your skin over the pseudoaneurysm is cool to the touch, pale, or changes color.
  • You have tingling or numbness near the pseudoaneurysm site.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.