Abdominal aortic aneurysms are enlargements in the major artery coursing through the trunk of your body off of which the arteries to your major abdominal organs originate. The AAA (triple A, but not the one you call for automobile service) is usually the result of atherosclerosis (or plaque) in the wall of this major artery and is a concern when it reaches a certain size as with increasing size there is a risk that it could rupture (or break open and bleed). You don't need to be terrified as it is very easy to measure and follow how large your AAA is on abdominal ultrasound, which is a noninvasive test without needles and just "jelly on your belly." The tech won't be looking for a baby in there, but rather measuring the diameter of your aorta and if it is < 5 cm, will continue to monitor every 6 months to 1 year, unless you develop acute abdominal pain that shoots through to your back or acute weakness and fatigue with nausea and vomiting. In general, many AAAs can be treated without open surgery by placing an endograft (or a large walled tube) inside the aorta, which then directs the blood through that "walled tube" and avoids the blood pressure on the thinned out walls of your native aorta. This procedure is a lot less intense than the surgery used to be for this condition. A trained vascular surgeon can do either an endograft or open surgery for your AAA and although you may still be terrified, you will be in safe hands! The short answer to your question - is it reversible? - no, not really, but fixable, yes, definitely!!
KathyLee Santangelo, MD