Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
The Cavanagh Heart Center vascular experts are specially trained to treat thoracic aortic aneurysms that can develop over time with no symptoms.
All Cavanagh Heart Center vascular surgeons are board certified and fellowship trained, with the expertise to treat any type of thoracic aneurysm.
A thoracic aortic aneurysm is similar to an abdominal aortic aneurysm in that part of the aorta balloons to a shape much larger than it should be. A thoracic aneurysm's ballooning occurs nearer the heart rather than the stomach.
Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Causes and Symptoms
Risk factors for the thoracic aortic aneurysm include:
- Gender (men are more likely than women to develop this type of aneurysm)
- Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- High cholesterol
- Inflammation of the aorta
- Long-term high blood pressure
- Traumatic injury
- Connective tissue disorders (i.e. Marfan syndrome, Loeys-Dietz syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome)
As with abdominal aneurysms, patients often have no symptoms of an thoracic aortic aneurysm. Usually the aneurysm grows slowly over time and does not cause discomfort until it ruptures, blocks blood flow to other parts of the body, or puts pressure on surrounding organs. People who have symptoms usually feel pain in the jaw, neck, back or chest and/or coughing, hoarseness, trouble breathing or trouble swallowing.
If you think you have an aneurysm, please consult the experts at Cavanagh Heart Center as soon as possible for a thorough evaluation.
Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Treatments
Typically if the aneurysm is small, not bleeding, and or not causing any symptoms, it can be watched and evaluated a few times a year. If the thoracic aneurysm is larger than two inches in diameter, your surgeon may recommend surgery.
Cavanagh Heart Center surgeons perform a large number of procedures involving thoracic aortic aneurysms and they have the experience to treat at all levels of complexity.
Cavanagh Heart Center offers these treatments:
Open surgical repair - Almost always used for patients with an thoracic aortic aneurysm bleeding into the body. The vascular surgeon makes an incision down or across the patient’s abdomen and clamps the aorta and then cuts the aneurysm open to release the pressure. A graft (a manmade, synthetic material) is placed inside the aorta and the aorta is sewn together over the graft to minimize bulging and prevent the aneurysm from bursting. The clamps are removed and the patient’s abdomen is closed. Typically patients who have an open repair stay in the hospital for five to 10 days. Although there are risks as with any surgery, most patients recover fully within two to three months.
Endovascular graft repair - Less invasive than a traditional open repair and typically used for non-emergent repair of an thoracic aneurysm. The surgeon makes a small incision near the groin (top of the leg). From the groin, the surgeon accesses the femoral artery where a stent (a manmade, metal coil) and a graft is inserted. The surgeon will deploy the graft, which will eventually cause the aneurysm to shrink around it. Typically patients that have an endovascular graft repair stay in the hospital for three to five days.
For More Vascular Information
Ask our concierge, (602) 839-2400