Human Anatomy & Physiology (9th Edition)

Published by Pearson
ISBN 10: 0321743261
ISBN 13: 978-0-32174-326-8

Chapter 19 - The Cardiovascular System: Blood Vessels - Review Questions - Critical Thinking and Clinical Application Questions - Page 749: 3


An aneurysm is an outpocketing of a weakened portion the walls of a blood vessel. Thre are many possible causes for the weakening and ballooning. Some of these are hereditary defect, high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking. The aneurysm may occur at any spot on a blood vessel but they are knonw to occur more commonly on some vessels like the abdominal aorta, arteries of the Circle of Willis (at the base of the brain, carotid arteries, mesenteric arteries, splenic artery and the renal artery. In this case the location of Joanie's aneurysm seems to be on one of the arteries of the Circle of Willis. This is an extremely dangerous spot. Rupture of such an aneurysm could lead to sudden death or at best a paralyzing stroke. Because of the location and the perceived weakness of the walls of the lesion, this seems to be a surgical emergency. Joanie seems to have had the services of an expert surgeon who surgically replaced the weakened portion of her artery with a portion of a plastic tubing. This may be a relatively permanent fix, or it could just be a temporary postponement of a stroke. It will depend on the cause of the aneurysm and Joanie's response (change in life style ).

Work Step by Step

Aneurysms are bulges or small out-pouching of a blood vessel wall at a location of structural weakness. There are many causes of aneurysms and they may occur in many different blood vessels. An aneurysm is not necessarily a surgical emergency. However when they occur on arteries serving the myocardium or, as in Joanie's case, on an artery supplying brain tissue ,prompt action is usually necessary to avert impending death or to preserve the quality of life of the patient. If the tunica of the artery become separated by intervening blood in the area of the aneurysm, then such a lesion is called a dissecting aneurysm, and it presents a more challenging surgical problem.
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