Image courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.
The aorta is the main blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the body. An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge or distension in the wall of the aorta.
As an aneurysm grows, it can significantly weaken the aorta. In some cases, an aneurysm can burst, causing dangerous bleeding inside the body. Surgical repair may be recommended if the aneurysm is large and likely to rupture.
An aneurysm can occur in any portion of the aorta butis most commonly found in the part of the aorta running through the abdomen. These aneurysms are called Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms or AAA's.
An aneurysm on the portion of the aorta running through the chest, or thorax, is called a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm. Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms account for about 25% of aortic aneurysms and may be the result of injury or trauma to the chest.
There are two types of surgery to repair aortic aneurysms: Open and Endovascular.
- Open surgery for aortic aneurysm repair involves accessing the aneurysm through a major incision (6-10 inches in length) in the abdomen or chest, depending upon the location of the aneurysm. In this type of procedure, the portion of the aorta containing the aneurysm is removed and replaced with an artificial graft.
- Endovascular surgery for aortic aneurysm is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a catheter containing a stent graft is inserted into an artery in the groin. The catheter and stent graft are then guided into the aorta and to the exact location of the aneurysm. Next, the stent graft is expanded inside the aneurysm, reinforcing the compromised section of the aorta to prevent further damage and/or rupture. This procedure is commonly referred to as a Thoracic Endovascular Aneurysm Repair or TEVAR.
Our surgeons who perform this procedure