A pseudoaneurysm (PSA), or false aneurysm, occurs when blood leaks from the aorta (the heart’s largest artery) and pools in the surrounding tissue. When the blood pools, a bulge will form in the artery, which results in the pseudoaneurysm. The leakage is often caused by damage to the aorta’s lining.
A pseudoaneurysm is different from an aneurysm, because it doesn’t cause the enlargement of the blood vessel wall. It only appears to be enlarged, because blood has pooled in the surrounding tissue.
- Pain at the location of the pseudoaneurysm
An ultrasound study is the most common test used to diagnose pseudoaneurysm. An ultrasound is a noninvasive imaging test that can be used to look at the structures of the heart.
Pseudoaneurysm Causes and Risk Factors
A pseudoaneurysm can result as a complication from an artery puncture during a cardiac catheterization, particularly an intervention to treat a heart attack.
A small pseudoaneurysm is often treated with medication or resolves on its own. If it’s a more serious leak, your doctor may recommend:
- A covered stent to prevent blood from leaking out of the arterial wall
- Ultrasound-guided compression, in which your doctor applies pressure to the pseudoaneurysm to reduce the blood buildup
- Ultrasound-guided thrombin injection, where medication is injected into the pseudoaneurysm site to help the blood clot
- Surgery to repair the damaged area of the aorta