Pain in the abdominal artery

What is abdominal artery pain?

The abdominal artery is part of the aorta, the largest human artery that distributes oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body.
It usually reaches a maximum diameter of two centimeters.

Pain in the abdominal artery region can have various causes. From harmless diseases that have nothing to do with the abdominal artery itself, to an acute rupture of the vein, which represents an absolute emergency, a lot is conceivable.
The pain therefore varies from rather mild, occasional pain to the strongest imaginable pain that can be associated with unconsciousness.

Causes of pain in the area of ​​the abdominal artery

The causes of pain in the area of ​​the abdominal artery are very diverse.

The following diseases can be the cause:

  • Ruptured aneurysm of the abdominal aorta;
  • very large aneurysm of the abdominal artery without a tear;
  • Constriction up to partial occlusion of the vessel by calcifications on the inner walls;
  • Inflammation of the pancreas;
  • Inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract;
  • Inflammation in the area of ​​the internal female genitals (e.g. inflammation of the ovaries).

Read more on the topic: diseases of the ovaries

Aneurysm of the abdominal artery

An aneurysm is a bulging of blood vessel walls, which is associated with an increased risk of a tear.
Aneurysm can be dangerous, especially in the area of ​​the abdominal artery, as a tear leads to a great deal of blood loss.
From a vessel diameter of three centimeters or more one speaks of an aneurysm in this context.

Very large aortic aneurysms can cause pain in the abdomen or back, but they usually also remain symptom-free.

The rupture of an aneurysm, however, is accompanied by extreme pain. Those affected report sudden sharp pain in the back that spreads down the flanks.

Often times, patients do not survive such an event because the blood loss is enormous.

Read more on the subject below: Symptoms of an aortic aneurysm

Calcification of the abdominal artery

Calcification of the abdominal artery can also lead to pain. However, these usually do not appear suddenly, but rather show a creeping start.
Depending on where the calcification is located, different areas of the body can be affected.

From the abdominal artery, however, there are also smaller vessels that supply the liver, spleen and other abdominal organs.

Calcifications can either narrow these vascular outlets or even close them suddenly if parts of the calcification become detached. These sudden closures can cause severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and in extreme cases can be fatal.

Inflammation of the pancreas

In addition to the actual diseases of the abdominal aorta, there are a number of other diseases that can also lead to symptoms in the area of ​​the abdominal artery.

This includes inflammation of the pancreas. It is usually accompanied by severe pain in the upper abdomen, which spreads in a belt-like manner into the back. In addition, nausea and vomiting occur.

Inflammation of the pancreas usually develops over a few days. This can also lead to fever and other general symptoms. The disease can also be dangerous and must always be treated by a doctor.

Read more on the subject under: Pancreatitis

Diseases from the gastrointestinal tract

Many diseases of the gastrointestinal tract are associated with pain in the area of ​​the abdominal artery. In addition to harmless viral infections, which are accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, chronic diseases can also be the cause.

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. They too are accompanied by severe abdominal pain and cramps. There is also diarrhea, sometimes with blood and symptoms outside the gastrointestinal tract.

An intolerance, for example of milk sugar (lactose), can lead to severe cramp-like pain. Usually diarrhea also follows.

In the case of severe pain in the abdomen without a known cause, a doctor should also be consulted in order to rule out potentially dangerous diseases.

Read more on the subject at:

  • Crohn's disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Lactose intolerance


The diagnosis of many presented diseases, especially those of the aneurysm, can be done with the help of an ultrasound machine.
The doctor can, for example, determine the diameter of the abdominal artery. Inflammation of the pancreas can also be detected this often.

In an emergency and if bleeding is suspected, an examination using CT (computed tomography) is often carried out.

A blood draw can sometimes help identify the cause of recurrent pain in the area. A certain combination of symptoms often leads to the diagnosis, for example in the case of a harmless gastrointestinal infection.

Read more on the subject under: gastrointestinal infections

Concomitant symptoms

The ruptured aneurysm of the abdominal artery is particularly associated with severe accompanying symptoms. These include nausea, weakness, dizziness and paleness and even loss of consciousness.

Symptoms like these definitely require the intervention of an emergency doctor and must be treated in hospital as soon as possible. Most of the other diseases presented show minor accompanying symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In addition, these symptoms usually do not appear suddenly, but rather insidiously and then slowly get worse.

Read more on the subject under: Aortic aneurysm

Conservative treatment and therapy

The treatment of a small abdominal aortic aneurysm or a smaller calcification of the vessel can be conservative or wait-and-see. The patient comes at regular intervals for an ultrasound check-up.

For example, the doctor pays attention to any enlargement of the aneurysm. Smaller aneurysms usually do not tear for a lifetime. However, larger aneurysms may require surgical treatment.

Torn aneurysms are treated in an emergency operation. Above all, speed is required here in order to minimize blood loss.

Despite optimal therapy, many patients die as a result of a ruptured aneurysm in the abdominal artery. Large and unstable calcifications can also be treated in one operation. You will then be supported with a stent.

Treatment of inflammation of the pancreas is usually done with the help of antibiotics and pain relievers. Above all, the cause of the inflammation must be determined and, if possible, rectified. Chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract can be treated in a number of ways.

The type of treatment is usually discussed individually with the doctor. Temporary infections often do not require any specific treatment. They pass by themselves after a few days.

Course of disease

A torn abdominal aortic aneurysm in particular requires further treatment even after the emergency operation. An affected patient often remains in the intensive care unit for some time.

Rehabilitation afterwards is helpful as many patients struggle with consequential damage.

Smaller aneurysms show a different course. They often get bigger over the years. The observation of these is therefore in the foreground of the treatment. Often, however, there is no need for action in the form of an operation for a lifetime. It is similar with vascular calcifications.


Depending on the cause of the pain, the prognosis is also very different.

The worst prognosis has a ruptured aneurysm of the abdominal aorta. Often over 50% of patients die with a tear.

A smaller aneurysm detected in good time has a good prognosis on a regular basis. In the case of calcification of the vessel, the dimensions are important.
Smaller calcifications often do not cause any symptoms and therefore have a good prognosis.

However, large and unstable forms can lead to death, especially when smaller parts become detached and the vessels are subsequently closed. The prognosis is therefore worse. The other diseases presented usually have a good prognosis with adequate treatment.