This medical health video looks into the new ways to detect earlier dangerous aneurysms.
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Jennifer Matthews: Jack Romel considers himself a lucky man. Jack Romel: I say, what the hell? Who knows? The last couple of years, not knowing about that, I could have been out driving or in the yard or anywhere at all, and mine would have burst. Jennifer Matthews: He's talking about the aneurysm doctors luckily found in his abdomen when he went in for a pain in his hip. An aneurysm is a weak spot in a blood vessel. Dr. Michel Makaroun: Unfortunately, the first symptoms are the symptoms of rupture. Jennifer Matthews: When an aneurysm is detected early, doctors often wait until it reaches about 5 centimeters before operating. This may not be the best approach. Dr. Michel Makaroun: We have a lot of patients who have a 9 or 10 centimeter aneurysm, and they've not ruptured yet, and there are some patients that rupture at 5. Jennifer Matthews: David Vorp is determined to find who needs surgery, and who can wait. Dr. David Vorp: It looks just simply at the ratio of the stress to the strength, so that gives us, at each point, the likelihood of rupture of that point on the aneurysm. Jennifer Matthews: Doctors can see this 6-centimeter aneurysm has a 33 percent chance of rupture. This similar sized one, a 55 percent chance. Dr. David Vorp: They may very well live out the rest of their natural lives and die from other causes and not their aneurysm, so why repair the aneurysm? Jennifer Matthews: Since this technology is still being developed, doctors took the standard approach with Jack and operated when his reached 5 centimeters. Jack Romel: Hell, that's it as far as I know. You know, I don't even know it's there. I just feel like I did when I went in. Jennifer Matthews: But maybe a little luckier. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.