An aneurysm is a bulging in the walls of an artery that looks similar to a balloon that, if it bursts or ruptures, may cause intense internal, uncontrollable bleeding. In most cases, small aneurysms are never diagnosed, though larger ones can be. The most common site for an aneurysm are those found along the aorta, the major blood vessel in the body that supplies blood to the heart. However, the aorta branches off into two femoral arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the lower extremities. A femoral aneurysm is typically found at the top portion of the artery, near the groin area. Learning and understanding the signs and symptoms of a femoral aneurysm leads to prompt diagnosis and treatment, and prevents complications, such as blood clots or even a burst artery, which can lead to almost immediate shock and death due to decreased blood pressure and blood loss.
High blood pressure or hypertension is a classic sign of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries caused by smoking, obesity and high cholesterol. High blood pressure or hypertension is almost always a result of vascular abnormalities, so get checked by a physician if you suspect you or a loved one might be suffering from such conditions. Atherosclerosis causes weakening or narrowing of arteries, which prompts weakened blood vessel walls to expand in order to facilitate blood flow.
In many cases, a person with a femoral aneurysm will have few symptoms, though pain is common. The pain caused by an aneurysm is generally felt below the location of the aneurysm due to a decrease in blood flow. Pain is most often felt in the lower leg, around the knee area but different people may experience the pain in different areas throughout the affected leg side, depending on the size of the aneurysm.
Numbness or Tingling
Because of decreased blood flow, individuals with a femoral aneurysm may experience a sensation of tingling or numbness in the lower extremity below the location of the aneurysm. In many cases individuals with a femoral aneurysm located in the groin will feel resulting pain or numbness in the knee area, below the knee or in the lower thigh.
One of the major signs of a possible femoral aneurysm is the ability to easily find and feel the pulse at the back of the knee, called the popliteal pulse. If an aneurysm is present, the pulse may be easily found and felt as throbbing. Another common site to assess the femoral pulse is in the groin. Again, under normal conditions, these two pulse points are rather difficult to feel, but in cases of the presence of an aneurysm are more prominent to touch.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis of a femoral aneurysm is often made through several different techniques such as CT (computed tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or Ultrasound imaging diagnostics. Treatments will be determined by overall general health, age and medical condition. Lowering blood pressure caused by smoking or hypertension are initial treatments, as well as those including medication treatments to lower blood pressure. If the aneurysm is not too large, surgery may be attempted.