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The largest artery in the body, the aorta is the primary blood vessel. It's responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood away from the heart, throughout the abdomen, and to all parts of the body.
An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal enlargement, or bulging, of the wall of the aorta. The walls of the aorta are elastic and filled with blood at high pressure. Because of this pressure, the aorta can become stretched and weakened, resulting in swelling or the formation of a balloon-like blister, or sac.
If an aneurysm ruptures or tears, life-threatening internal bleeding can result. Fortunately, if detected in time, an aneurysm may be repaired with surgery and minimally invasive, nonsurgical techniques.
The aorta has the following segments:
The descending aorta has two parts:
Aneurysms involving both parts of the descending aorta are called thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms.