Iliac Artery Aneurysm

What is an iliac aneurysm?

An iliac aneurysm is bulging and weakness in the wall of one of the iliac arteries. The common iliac arteries branch off the abdominal aorta in the pelvic area. These arteries further branch into internal iliac arteries and external iliac arteries.

 A large iliac aneurysm can burst, which can cause life-threatening, uncontrolled internal bleeding.

Comparison of healthy aorta and iliac aneurysm anatomy.

Causes of iliac aneurysm

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Infections
  • Trauma from hip or lower-back surgery
  • Congenital (present at birth) weakness in the wall of the artery

You are at higher risk for an iliac aneurysm if you:

  • Are older than 60
  • Are male
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Smoke

Symptoms of an iliac aneurysm

Many people with an iliac aneurysm have no symptoms at all until the aneurysm bursts. However, some people with iliac aneurysm may experience the following symptoms:

  • Back pain
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Groin pain

If the aneurysm tears—known as a dissection or rupture—you may experience a sudden, sharp “ripping” feeling. If that happens, even if the pain subsides quickly, you should get to a hospital immediately.

How an iliac aneurysm is diagnosed

Your physician may perform some or all of the following tests to determine if you have an iliac aneurysm:

  • Physical exam
  • Ultrasound
  • CT angiography (CTA)
  • Magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA)
  • Angiography

An iliac aneurysm is often detected as part of another procedure or test being performed.

Treatment for iliac aneurysm

Treatment includes simple measures that you can take, as well as surgery if necessary.

You can:

  • Stop smoking
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Maintain your blood sugar
  • Lower your cholesterol level
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Iliac artery aneurysms have traditionally been treated by surgical reconstruction. Now there is also a minimally invasive option—endovascular stent grafts—that are effective in treating both aortic and iliac aneurysms.