A popliteal artery aneurysm is an abnormal bulge that occurs in the wall of the artery that runs through the area behind your knee joint.

  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors trained in blood vessel conditions (vascular specialists) and blood vessel surgery (vascular and endovascular surgeons) are experienced in treating people with popliteal artery aneurysms. Each Mayo Clinic location offers a vascular center, staffed by doctors and other specialists trained in vascular diseases.
  • Team approach. Mayo Clinic doctors in several areas work together to diagnose and treat your condition.
  • Treatment expertise. At Mayo Clinic, doctors have expertise in treating people with popliteal artery aneurysms and other aneurysms with endovascular surgery, open surgery and other options. Mayo doctors evaluate and treat more than 350 people each year with lower extremity artery aneurysms, including popliteal artery aneurysms.
  • Efficient system. Mayo doctors evaluate your condition and develop a treatment plan, often within a few days.
  • Latest diagnostic tools. At Mayo Clinic, doctors use detailed imaging tests to diagnose your condition.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

Why Choose Mayo Clinic

What Sets Mayo Clinic Apart

Mayo Clinic doctors trained in blood vessel conditions (vascular specialists), doctors trained in imaging (radiologists) and others diagnose your condition.

Doctors usually find popliteal artery aneurysms during routine physical examinations or identify them during imaging tests such as ultrasounds or computerized tomography (CT) scans. Popliteal artery aneurysms often occur without symptoms.

Doctors may order several tests to diagnose your condition, including:

  • Ultrasound. An ultrasound uses sound waves to produce detailed images of your blood vessels. An ultrasound helps doctors determine the size of the aneurysm and blood flow through the popliteal artery.
  • Duplex ultrasound. Duplex ultrasound is a special ultrasound that gives detailed information about the size of the aneurysm, potential blood clots that may have formed in the popliteal artery and blood flow through the popliteal artery. Doctors often use ultrasound and duplex ultrasound to diagnose people with popliteal artery aneurysms, and order other tests if needed.

    Doctors may also conduct duplex ultrasound to check for aneurysms in other areas of your body, if a popliteal artery aneurysm has been detected.

  • Computerized tomography (CT). A CT scan uses a series of X-rays to create detailed images of the blood vessels in your leg. Sometimes doctors may inject a dye into your blood vessels to show the blood flow (CT angiography).
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of your body's soft tissues. Sometimes doctors may inject a dye into your blood vessels to show the blood flow (magnetic resonance angiography).

Mayo Clinic doctors trained in blood vessel interventions and surgery (vascular and endovascular surgeons) and blood vessel conditions (vascular specialists) treat people with popliteal artery aneurysms.

Doctors will work with you to determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition. Your treatment may include several options, depending on the condition of your arteries, your overall health, your symptoms, the size of the aneurysm and other factors.

Doctors may recommend endovascular intervention or open surgery to repair the popliteal artery aneurysm to help prevent potentially dangerous health issues and complications, including the aneurysm blocking blood flow to your leg, a blood clot breaking off from the aneurysm and other complications. Your doctor will discuss with you the risks and benefits of each procedure.

If you have blood clots and blocked blood flow to your leg due to a popliteal artery aneurysm, doctors may give you medications during open surgery or through the catheter in an endovascular intervention to dissolve the blood clot before placing a stent graft. After you have been diagnosed with blood clots or blocked blood flow, your doctor may prescribe blood-thinning medications to take until your surgery.

Treatments for popliteal artery aneurysm include:

  • Endovascular intervention. In this procedure, which is less invasive than open surgery, your doctor inserts a long, flexible tube (catheter) into an artery either through a small incision in your groin or through the skin and threads the catheter to the aneurysm using X-ray imaging.

    Your doctor inserts an artificial tube (stent graft) through the catheter into the affected area and expands it against the walls of the artery. This helps to prevent the risk of a blood clot moving to and blocking the leg arteries, prevents rupture of the aneurysm, and avoids blockage of the knee artery.

    People who have endovascular intervention usually have a quicker recovery and shorter hospital stays compared with open surgery.

  • Open surgery. In open surgery, your surgeon cuts the skin and tissue to reach the aneurysm directly.

    In one approach, surgeons create a detour around the aneurysm by placing veins from another part of your body (vein grafts) around the affected area.

    In another approach, surgeons place an artificial tube (prosthetic graft) in the affected area, approaching your aneurysm from behind the knee.

    During surgery to bypass the aneurysm with a vein or prosthetic artery, surgeons open the sac of the aneurysm, remove the blood clot and suture together the opposing walls to prevent recurrence or continuing compression to the surrounding blood vessels. Surgery keeps the aneurysm from entering your blood circulation and possibly rupturing.

  • Monitoring. If your aneurysm is small and you aren't experiencing symptoms, doctors may monitor your condition regularly with follow-up appointments and ultrasounds.

    After open or endovascular surgery, your doctor will continue to monitor your condition regularly with follow-up appointments and imaging tests.

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Doctors trained in vascular and endovascular surgery, vascular medicine and others treat people with popliteal artery aneurysms at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Doctors and surgeons in the Vascular Center care for people with popliteal artery aneurysms.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Mayo Clinic doctors trained in vascular and endovascular surgery, vascular medicine and others treat people with popliteal artery aneurysms at Mayo Clinic in Florida. Doctors and surgeons in the Vascular Center care for people with popliteal artery aneurysms.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Mayo Clinic doctors trained in vascular surgery, vascular medicine and others treat people with popliteal artery aneurysms at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Staff in the Gonda Vascular Center cares for people with popliteal artery aneurysms.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic researchers study potential treatments for popliteal artery aneurysms and other types of aneurysms.

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic doctors on popliteal artery aneurysms on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

May 05, 2014