Aortic Aneurysms, Thoracic

An aortic aneurysm is a weakening or outward bulge in the aorta, the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all other parts of the body.

The wall of the aorta can become so stretched that it can burst, or “rupture” causing serious bleeding that can quickly lead to death.

Blood can also pool in a weakened area of the aorta, leading to clots. When blood clots travel through the blood stream they can cause heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) or blockage of blood supply to legs or arms.

There are three main types of aortic aneurysm:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysms occur in the abdomen (the belly) and are the most common type of aortic aneurysms.
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysms occur in the portion of the aorta that passes from the heart through the chest.
  • Thoraco-abdominal aneurysms occur in the portion of the aorta that leads from the chest to the abdomen.

Thoracic and abdominal aneurysms generally develop slowly over time and often do not cause any symptoms. Aneurysms are often discovered during imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT scans, or MRI, for other unrelated conditions.

Surgery for Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Repair

Englewood Health Physician Network cardiothoracic surgeons are expert in the complex and delicate surgical repair of thoracic aortic aneurysms.

Aneurysms that are located near where the aorta joins the heart must be repaired through open surgery. Our surgeons may also recommend an open surgical procedure if your aneurysm is especially large or has a more complex shape.

The aortic arch is the curved area of the aorta where the major arteries branch off to supply blood to the head and arms. If you have an aneurysm located in the aortic arch, our cardiovascular surgeons will determine if your aneurysm is at risk for rupturing or dissection.

Aortic arch aneurysm surgery is complex and requires opening the chest and the use of the heart-lung bypass machine. Our cardiothoracic surgeons will replace the portion of your aorta where the aneurysm is located with an artificial graft or stent (a mesh tube) allowing the blood to flow through normally without putting pressure on the aneurysm.