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The femoral artery is located in the groin. Aneurysms (widening of the artery) can
occur in this location. Patients rarely have any symptoms due to femoral artery
aneurysm, they are usually discovered on routine physical examination by a physician.
The cause of femoral artery aneurysms is unknown. They tend to occur in older men
and women (more common in men) and femoral artery aneurysms are frequently bilateral.
If a physician suspects the presence of a femoral artery aneurysm, an ultrasound
exam is usually ordered to confirm the presence of the aneurysm, determine the size,
and look for the presence of clot within the aneurysm. Because of the abnormal swirling
of blood within the aneurysm sac, blood clot usually forms along the inside wall
of the aneurysm. The femoral artery aneurysm can cause trouble for a patient if
they rupture and cause bleeding into the thigh, or when blood clot builds up inside
the femoral artery aneurysm along the walls of the aneurysm and then travels down
the artery and into the lower leg. Either of these two events can potentially lead
to the need for amputation of the lower leg and foot.
After confirmation of the presence of a femoral artery aneurysm, a determination
is made as to whether repair is necessary at that time. Each case is different and
a decision must be made by the patient's vascular surgeon as to whether repair is
necessary or whether close follow up and careful observation is the better course.
Many issues must be taken into consideration including: the size of the femoral
artery aneurysm, condition of the femoral artery above and below the aneurysm, presence
or absence of blood clot within the femoral aneurysm, and the overall health of
Surgical repair is usually quite successful, durable, and can usually be performed
with an acceptably low risk. The best procedure for repair involves an incision
in the thigh, removal of the femoral artery aneurysm and reconstruction of the blood
flow to the foot using either a vein or an "artificial artery" (prosthetic artery).
Although stents have been used for this repair, it is much less common to do so
and the results of repair using a prosthetic artery sewn in place are so good that
most specialists do not recommend placing a stent in an area of the lower extremity
that is subject to movement and bending.
A femoral artery pseudoaneurysm is a type of "bubble" on the femoral artery due
to a penetrating injury to the artery. An opening in the artery leads to leakage
of blood from the femoral artery ( a "hematoma"). This hematoma develops a wall
around it and the hematoma liquefies and forms a pulsating "bubble" on the artery.
This is called a pseudoaneurysm. A pseudoaneurysm, like any aneurysm, can rupture
and cause bleeding or loss of limb. A pseudoaneurysm can develop on the femoral
artery due to any penetrating injury of the artery. The most common penetrating
"injury" of the femoral artery occurs during cardiac catheterization performed via
the femoral artery.