A popliteal aneurysm is bulging and weakness in the wall of the popliteal artery, which supplies blood to the knee joint, thigh and calf.
A popliteal aneurysm is bulging and weakness in the wall of the popliteal artery, which supplies blood to the knee joint, thigh and calf. A popliteal aneurysm can burst, which may cause life-threatening uncontrolled bleeding. The aneurysm may also cause a blood clot, potentially causing amputation of the affected leg.
The exact cause of popliteal aneurysms is not known, though atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of fatty substances, plaque and other elements) is believed to play a key role. Trauma to the artery may also cause a popliteal aneurysm.
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Bacterial infection
- Blood-vessel reconstruction occurring in one or both of the legs
Many popliteal aneurysms have no symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Pain behind the knee
- An edema (collection of watery fluid) in the lower leg
- Foot pain
- Ulcers on the skin of the feet that don't heal
- Ultrasound Imaging: Sound waves are used to measure blood flow in the aortic artery and determine whether there is an aneurysm.
- Computed Tomography (CT) scan: X-ray views of the aortic artery are taken to determine if there are any aneurysms.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Radio waves and magnetic fields are used to show areas where an aneurysm may be present.
- Angiography: A dye is inserted into the arteries through a catheter, then an X-ray is taken to show how blood flows through the arteries and whether any aneurysms are present. UVA's angiography/interventional radiology suites are equipped with technology that allows for 3-D images of aneurysms to help determine the best plan of treatment.
Surgery is generally required. A surgeon will typically create a bypass around the area of the artery where the aneurysm is located. Carefully controlling high blood pressure — with medication, if necessary — is also an important part of treatment.