Most people are unaware that they have an aneurysm because in most cases, there are no symptoms. Most of the times an aortic aneurysm will be discovered incidentally by X-ray, computed tomography scan (CT scan), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that is being done for other conditions.
They may also be found upon routine physical examination by the discovery of a pulsating mass in the abdomen. For these reasons, abdominal aneurysms are referred as "silent killers" since they may rupture before being diagnosed.
As aneurysms grow larger symptoms may occur. Pain is the most common symptom of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The pain associated with an abdominal aortic aneurysm may be located in the abdomen, chest, lower back, or groin area. The pain may be severe or dull and may be associated with the imminent rupture of the aneurysm.
Acute, sudden onset of severe pain in the back and/or abdomen may represent rupture and is a life threatening medical emergency.
The symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm may resemble other medical conditions (e.g. peptic ulcer, gastroesophageal reflux, constipation, coronary angina, renal colic), that is why you should always consult your vascular surgeon for more information.
Another relatively rare symptom is a cold painful foot, or a blue painful toe which can happen due to blood clots generated within the diseased bulging aortic segment, dislodging, migrating and blocking the blood stream towards the foot or toe (embolization).
In the rare case of an infected or inflammatory aneurysm symptoms may include fever, weight loss and symptoms of a chronic disease. A massive inflammatory response may affect body parts close to the aneurysm, including part of the small intestine, the ureter, or the veins to the kidney.
Any of these structures can become obstructed by the inflammation, with various symptoms relevant to the affected structure.