Abdominal Vascular Catastrophe

As the name indicates, abdominal vascular catastrophes—ruptures and blockages of the blood vessels in the abdomen—are serious, life-threatening conditions that require fast, accurate diagnosis and expert treatment.

Surgeons in the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Cooper University Health Care have the expertise to quickly diagnose and comprehensively treat abdominal vascular catastrophes. And they are available 24/7.

The Types of Abdominal Vascular Catastrophes

Abdominal vascular catastrophes fall into two categories: hemorrhage (rupture) or occlusion (blockage) of the blood vessels in the abdomen.

  • The most common abdominal vascular catastrophe is a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), causing the abdominal cavity to fill with blood
  • Vascular occlusion occurs when a blood clot travels from another part of the body or plaque buildup blocks blood flow in the vessels in the abdomen. There are two types of vascular occlusion:
    • Acute intestinal artery occlusion can result in inflammation and injury of the intestine due to lack of blood flow (ischemia)—which can have life-threatening consequences
    • Acute aortic occlusion is a condition in which the blood flow to both legs and the pelvis is cut off; while rare, this condition is associated with extremely high morbidity and mortality, and treatment needs to be started as soon as possible 

Why Choose Cooper to Treat Abdominal Vascular Catastrophes?

Cooper’s vascular and endovascular surgeons are South Jersey’s most experienced and respected team for treating abdominal vascular catastrophes.

Equally important, because abdominal vascular catastrophes are such severe medical emergencies, fast diagnosis and treatment are also essential. Our vascular and endovascular surgeons not only are available around the clock, but Cooper is home to the region’s only Level One Vascular Emergency Program, enabling patients with urgent vascular problems to be transferred here quickly by helicopter or ambulance from any hospital within a 100-mile radius. 

Treatment for Abdominal Vascular Catastrophes

Because abdominal vascular catastrophes are so life threatening, immediate surgery is almost always necessary. This type of surgery requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes vascular surgeons with both open and endovascular surgical expertise—for which Cooper is renowned.

Critical care specialists are also a vital part of the care team—another advanced capability for which Cooper is well-known.

Abdominal Vascular Catastrophe Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to a ruptured abdominal aneurysm or vascular occlusion, including:

  • Coronary artery disease 
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol or a high fat diet, or both
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Age over 60
  • Family history of AAA or vascular occlusive disease
  • Male gender (particularly for ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms)

Abdominal Vascular Catastrophe Symptoms

While abdominal vascular catastrophes are relatively uncommon, they can be lethal. That’s why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of these conditions, and seek medical attention immediately.

The symptoms of abdominal vascular catastrophe depend on the type of rupture or occlusion that has occurred:

  • Ruptured aortic aneurysm: The primary symptom is sudden, intense and persistent abdominal or back pain. Other symptoms can include sweatiness, clamminess, dizziness or fainting, nausea and vomiting, and low blood pressure. Without immediate medical treatment, death occurs.
  • Acute intestinal artery occlusion: The primary symptom is sudden onset of severe abdominal pain, but it may be less obvious or come on more slowly 
  • Acute aortic occlusion: Signs and symptoms of an acute aortic occlusion include sudden inability to feel and move the legs, urinary and fecal incontinence, and loss of pulse in the thighs and legs

Contact Us

To learn more about the services available in the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery or to schedule an appointment, please call 856.342.2151.

Refer a Patient

If you are a doctor who wants to refer a patient to the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, please call 856.968.7067.