Subclavian Aneurysm

A subclavian aneurysm is weakness or bulging in the wall of the subclavian artery, which is located below the collarbone. If the aneurysm ruptures, it can cause life-threatening, uncontrolled bleeding. Blood clots caused by the aneurysm can potentially lead to stroke or loss of fingers, the hand or, in rare cases, the entire arm. 

Causes of Subclavian Aneurysms

Causes of subclavian aneurysms may include:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome 
  • Trauma
  • Connective tissue disorders like Marfan syndrome
subclavian aneurysm

Are You at Risk?

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

  • Smoke
  • Have diabetes
  • Have a family history of atherosclerosis
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have an extra rib above the first rib
  • Have abnormally tight fibrous band (ligament) connecting the spinal vertebra with the ribs
  • Have a long neck
  • Have droopy shoulders

Symptoms of Subclavian Aneurysms

You may experience symptoms that include:

  • A pulsating mass above or below the collarbone
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • A feeling of hoarseness in the throat
  • Fatigue in the upper extremities
  • Numbness, tingling, fatigue or ulcers in the fingers

Subclavian Aneurysm: Diagnosis & Treatment 

We can diagnose you through tests that include:

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

Surgery is the most common treatment option for subclavian aneurysms. Your surgeon will repair the aneurysm either with a vein from elsewhere in the body or with a synthetic graft.

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.