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The aorta, the body's largest artery, extends upward from the top of the left ventricle of the heart (ascending thoracic aorta), then curves like a candy cane (aortic arch) downward (descending thoracic aorta) into the abdomen (abdominal aorta). The aorta delivers oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. The heart pumps blood out of the left ventricle, through the aortic valve, and into the aorta. An aneurysm is a problem that affects the aorta in which the blood vessel may become enlarged beyond its normal size; in some cases, the vessel can rupture, causing fatal bleeding.

In some cases, the aorta can become diseased. Aortic diseases include aortic aneurysms and aortic dissection, a result of aortic aneurysms. These conditions usually warrant some kind of surgery to correct.

The type of aortic disease surgery you’ll need depends on your unique condition. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for aortic disease because no two aneurysms or dissections are alike. When feasible, we prefer taking a minimally invasive approach; however, aortic aneurysms are typically treated with traditional surgery to open the chest or abdomen. Different procedures are required depending upon the location of the aneurysm.

Treatments we offer

In some cases, an aneurysm can cause an aortic dissection, which is a tear in the intima of the aorta that causes a false lumen (blood passageway). Aortic dissection treatment includes a number of surgical options depending on your unique condition.

During thoracic aortic aneurysm repair, the damaged segment of the aneurismal aorta is opened and replaced with a graft made of artificial material. This approach has been used for decades and has proven very successful.