Popliteal Aneurysm

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 requiring a leg amputation.

Causes of Popliteal Aneurysms

The exact cause of popliteal aneurysms is not known, though atherosclerosis may play a key role. Trauma to the artery may also cause a popliteal aneurysm.

popliteal aneurysm

Are You at Risk?

You may be at risk for a popliteal aneurysm if you:

  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Smoke
  • Have a bacterial infection
  • Have had blood-vessel reconstruction in one or both legs

Symptoms of Popliteal Aneurysms

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

Popliteal Aneurysms: Diagnosis & Treatment

We can diagnose you through tests that include:

  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Angiography

Surgery is generally required to treat popliteal aneurysms. Your surgeon will typically create a bypass around the area of the artery where the aneurysm is located.

It's important for you to carefully control high blood pressure with medication, if necessary.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.