The aorta is the main artery of the human body and normally has a diameter of 2 cm. With aging, the aorta can slowly widen. This mostly occurs in the abdominal part of the aorta. When the abdominal aorta reaches a diameter of 3 cm, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Multiple factors contribute to the development of aneurysms. Well-known examples are high age, smoking, and a familiar predisposition. Most aneurysms continue to grow slowly with an average speed of 1 - 2 mm per year, but growth speed can differ between patients.
Larger aneurysms have a higher chance of rupturing. Even though rupturing only occurs in a small subset of patients, it is a serious complication with high mortality. Approximately 75% of patients with a ruptured aneurysm die from its consequences. In the Netherlands, approximately 1,000 patients are yearly treated for ruptured aneurysms.
To prevent aneurysms from future rupturing, many patients undergo preventive surgery. The most important factor in deciding to perform preventive surgery is the aneurysm diameter. Most guidelines recommend to operate on aneurysms of 5.5 cm in men, and 5.0 cm in women. However, aneurysm diameter is not a very accurate predictor of rupture. Therefore, some smaller aneurysms also occasionally rupture, whereas some larger aneurysms never rupture. Hence, better indicators of aneurysm rupture are highly needed.
The Pearl of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm serves to initiate and stimulate scientific research through cooperation between different academic centres. The main goal is to reduce mortality of patients with an aneurysm.
The Pearl has the following scientific ambitions:
The durable infrastructure of PSI enables the registration and follow-up of patients with an aneurysm for many years. By doing this, future clinical events can be related to the previously obtained patient information and biomaterials. It is expected that factors that contribute to disease progression can be identified.