Aortic Aneurysm

Overview

 An aortic aneurysm is a weakened area in the upper part of the aorta. The aorta is the major blood vessel that feeds blood to the body.


Aortic Aneurysm can lead to a tear in the artery wall that can cause life-threatening bleeding.  Small and slow-growing aortic aneurysms may not ever rupture, but large, fast-growing aneurysms may rupture. Depending on the cause, size and growth rate of your thoracic aortic aneurysm, treatment may vary from watchful waiting to emergency surgery. 

Signs of an Aortic Aneurysm


  • Tenderness or pain in the chest
  • Back pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sharp, sudden pain in the upper back that radiates downward
  • Pain in your chest, jaw, neck or arms
  • Difficulty breathing

Aortic aneurysms can develop anywhere along the aorta, which runs from your heart through your chest and abdomen.  Aneurysms that form in the lower part of your aorta — called abdominal aortic aneurysms — are more common than thoracic aortic aneurysms. 

Diagnosis

Aortic aneurysms are often found during routine medical tests, such as a chest X-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound of the heart or abdomen, sometimes ordered for a different reason.

If your doctor suspects that you have an aortic aneurysm, specialized tests can confirm it.

Insurance

We accept most major insurance companies including Medicare, Blue Shield/Blue Cross, United Healthcare, 1199, Cigna, Aetna, Healthfirst, Wellcare, etc.

Our staff will help you to contact your insurance company to verify eligibility and complete all necessary paperwork. 

Aortic Aneurysm Treatment

At SVS you will be treated by fully trained vascular surgeons

The goal of treatment is to prevent your aneurysm from growing, and intervening before it dissects or ruptures. Generally, your treatment options are medication, monitoring or intervention, which usually involves surgery. Your doctor's decision depends on the size of the aortic aneurysm and how fast it's growing. 


There are three main options:



Medical Monitoring 


It's likely your doctor will order regular imaging tests to check on the size of your aneurysm. Expect to have an echocardiogram, CT scan or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) at least six months after your aneurysm is diagnosed, and at regular follow-up exams. 


  • If your thoracic aortic aneurysm is small, your doctor may recommend medication, monitoring with imaging, and management of other medical conditions that could worsen your aneurysm. Your doctor will also ask you about any new family health issues such as aneurysm, as well as signs or symptoms you may be experiencing that could be related to the aneurysm. 


 

Medications


If you have high blood pressure or blockages in your arteries, it's likely that your doctor will prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure and reduce your cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of complications from your aneurysm. These medications could include:


  • Beta blockers. Beta blockers lower your blood pressure by slowing your heart rate. 


  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers. Your doctor may also prescribe these medications if beta blockers aren't enough to control your blood pressure or if you can't take beta blockers.


  • Statins. These medications can help lower your cholesterol, which can help reduce blockages in your arteries and reduce your risk of aneurysm complications. 


 

Surgery


If you have a thoracic aortic aneurysm, surgery is generally recommended if your aneurysm is about 1.9 to 2.4 inches (about 5 to 6 centimeters) and larger. If you have Marfan syndrome, another connective tissue disease, a bicuspid aortic valve or a family history of aortic dissection, your doctor may recommend surgery for smaller aneurysms because you have a higher risk of having an aortic dissection. 


  • Open-chest surgery to repair a thoracic aortic aneurysm involves removing the damaged section of the aorta and replacing it with a synthetic tube (graft), which is sewn into place. 


  • Endovascular surgery is used by doctors to attach a synthetic graft to the end of a thin tube (catheter) that's inserted through an artery in your leg and threaded up into your aorta. The graft — a woven tube covered by a metal mesh support — is placed at the site of the aneurysm and fastened in place with small hooks or pins. 


  • Other heart surgeries If another condition is contributing to your aneurysm's development, such as a problem with your heart's valves, your doctor may recommend additional surgeries to repair or replace the damaged valves to stop your aneurysm from worsening. 

What to do next?

If you have a family history of aortic aneurysm, Marfan syndrome or other connective tissue disease, or bicuspid aortic valve, your doctor may recommend regular ultrasound or radiology testing such as computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams to screen for aortic aneurysm.