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VDF Infomation Library

Disease Information : AAA : Glossary

AAA : Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I-K | L | M-O | P-Q | R | S | T | U | V-Z


Abdominal Aorta: The portion of the largest artery in the body between the diaphragm and the bifurcation into the common iliac arteries (about the location of the belly button or navel.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA): This occurs when there is weak area in the aorta, the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. As blood flows through the aorta, the weak area bulges like a balloon and can burst if the balloon gets too big.

Aneurysm: A ballooning or bulging of the wall of a vein or artery, usually due to a weakening in the wall or congenital abnormalities.

Aorta: The largest artery in the body, originating at the left ventricle and serving as the primary trunk from which the entire arterial system proceeds.

Arterial insufficiency: An inadequate blood supply in the arterial system most often caused by a narrowing in the vessel proximal to the inadequately supplied area.

Arteriogram: An x-ray used to determine specific arterial blockages in the body. The procedure involves inserting a small catheter into the artery that injects dye.

Atherosclerosis: From the Greek words athero (gruel or paste) and sclerosis (hardness). The process within the arteries where deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium or fibrin are built up in the inner lining (called plaques).

Arteriosclerosis: A normal consequence of aging where the arterial walls gradually thicken and arterial fibers decline. The arteries become stiff. (see Atherosclerosis)

Artery: A pipeline (blood vessel) carrying oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. When diseased, the organ supplied may become damaged due to lack of oxygen and nutrients. (see ischemia)

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Blood pressure: The force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls.


Calcified vessels: When an artery becomes hardened from calcium deposits in the wall. Often seen in diabetes. Effects the ability to make accurate pressure measurements in the legs.

Catheter: A tiny flexible tube inserted in a blood vessel to inject dye, assist with the removal of a blood clot, or inject medication.

Catheter-based technology: When a catheter is used in minimally invasive procedure, guided through the blood vessels and tracked through the use of a fluoroscope and then displayed on a screen.

Collateral circulation: The slow development of smaller peripheral arteries to allow some blood flow around the narrowed/blocked area of an artery. This occurs as an adaptation when an artery is slowly blocked with plaque over time.


Diabetes mellitus: A metabolic disorder in which the body does not produce insulin (type 1) or ) when the body does not make enough or cannot properly use insulin (type 2).

Doppler: A diagnostic tool that uses low intensity ultrasound to detect blood flow velocity in arteries or veins.

Duplex: A diagnostic tool that combines Doppler and ultrasound.


Endovascular Grafting: A fairly new procedure for repairing AAA by directing the flow of blood around an aneurysm through the use of a graft. The procedure allows the graft to be delivered through a catheter using x-ray guidance.


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Grafts: A surgical technique using man-made material or vein to re-route blood flow.


High Blood Pressure: Higher than normal blood pressure - the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. One of the contributing factors to AAA.

I, J, K

Interventional radiology: A medical specialty where doctors use imaging technologies to diagnose blockages in arteries and also treat them with balloons, stents, and catheter delivered medications.

Ischemia: An organ (heart, brain, kidneys, or foot, for example) that is not getting adequate blood flow and lacks vital oxygen and nutrients.

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Lipids: another term for fats that can be broken down into fatty acids.

Lipoproteins: Proteins that transport cholesterol and other fats to and from cells. LDL is the subtype most dangerous for peripheral arterial disease. HDL is beneficial in prevention.

M, N, O

Non-Invasive: Medical procedures or exams which do not involve needles, dye or x-ray to diagnose arterial diseases.

P, Q

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD): A common disorder that occurs in the artery segments of the circulatory system (legs, pelvis, neck brain). The artery wall linings slowly become narrowed and rough clots formed due to built up cholesterol or plaque. It has major implications on a patient's life due to association with blockages in the heart and brain with potential for death from heart attack and stroke.

Plaque: The built up material on the inner lining of an artery made up of cholesterol and fatty substances.


Revascularization: Procedures to restore blood flow the artery.


Stents: Wire mesh tubes that are surgical placed within the artery (recently cleared through angioplasty) via a catheter threaded through the artery. It is opened to form a rigid support to hold the clogged artery open to potentially prevent recurrent narrowing.

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Ultrasound: The diagnostic test using imaging technology to produce sound waves of the images of various tissues. This test is used to locate aneurysms or blocked arteries and can measure their size.

V, W, X, Y, Z

Vascular Medicine: A branch of medicine that deals primarily in medical treatment of vascular diseases. A rapidly expanding area of modern medicine.

Vascular Surgeon: A physician with a specialty in performing surgery to either remove the plaque from an artery or more commonly to bypass the area of obstruction with a graft. Also can be involved in the medical treatment of vascular disease.

Vessels: The tube like structures in the circulatory system that are responsible for circulating blood within the body. The three kinds of vessels are arteries, veins and lymphatics. Capillaries are the microscopic structures that connect arteries and veins at the tissues.

Veins: Blood vessels that carry the blood from the body back to the heart.

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