Vascular Conditions

Peripheral Aneurysm

A weakening in the wall of a blood vessel in your abdomen or sometimes in a leg which results in an abnormally dilated area. This dilated area is prone to:

  • Clotting off and interrupting blood flow.
  • Rupturing and causing serious bleeding.
  • Compressing adjacent tissues.

Usually genetic, rarely occur.

  • Peripheral aneurysms are usually genetic; that is, you are born with the tendency to form them. Aneurysms in the abdomen, called splenic aneurysms, are uncommon, affecting 0.7% of the population.
  • Peripheral aneurysms in the legs are very rare, affecting 0.007% of men, and even fewer women.

May require treatment.

If you develop a peripheral aneurysm, it will not go away unless treated. Most peripheral aneurysms over 2 cm in diameter require treatment. In some cases even smaller aneurysms may require treatment.


May be absent

Many peripheral aneurysms cause no symptoms and are found when your doctor does a physical or performs testing for other reasons.

Abdominal pain, fainting

May indicate that a splenic aneurysm in your abdomen is causing bleeding.

Sudden pain, weakness, swelling, numbness in the leg

May signal interrupted blood flow an aneurysm in your leg. In rare cases, may indicate compression of nearby nerves or compression of a vein next to the aneurysm.

Painful and discolored toe

“Blue toes” may indicate the presence of small blood clots washed down from elsewhere. This condition heals on its own in 2-3 months


Some specific causes of peripheral aneurysm include:

  • If family members have had an aneurysm you are more likely to have one.
  • Having one peripheral aneurysm increases the risk of developing another one elsewhere.
  • Smoking is the major controllable cause of aneurysm growth.
  • For women, splenic aneurysms in the abdomen have a tendency to grow during pregnancy and are more common for mothers who have had many children.


Peripheral aneurysms are often identified in a physical exam. If so, make an appointment to see a vascular surgeon.

Tests may be recommended

  • If a peripheral aneurysm is suspected, duplex ultrasound and computerized tomography (CT) scans are good tests to confirm its presence.
  • If your vascular surgeon prescribes treatment, a computerized tomography (CT) angiography or catheter angiography may be needed.


How best to treat an aneurysm depends on its location, the condition of surrounding blood vessels and other medical issues.

  • Bypass surgery is one way to treat a peripheral aneurysm in your leg. First, blood flow is redirected around the aneurysm. Then, the aneurysm is removed or tied off to prevent circulating blood from continuing to fill the aneurysm.
  • Stent grafting is used in some cases. During a catheterization procedure, a graft is placed inside the vein to seal off the aneurysm.
  • A splenic aneurysm in your abdomen may be treated with embolization (occlusion) of the aneurysm, or with removal of the spleen.