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Aortic aneurysm. Gross clinical specimen of an aorta showing a large saccular aneurysm (swelling). The aorta is the main artery that takes blood from the heart to the body. Its normal diameter is seen at upper right. The aneurysm was caused by a weakness in the wall of the aorta. The most common cause of this weakening is atherosclerosis, the deposition of fatty plaques of atheroma on the inside walls of arteries. Pressure from the swelling can damage surrounding tissues, and the aneurysm may rupture, leading to heavy internal bleeding. If the aneurysm is found before it ruptures, surgery usually provides a cure. The prognosis is poor after a rupture.
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