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Proximal Aortic Surgery

The proximal thoracic aorta is the part of the aorta—the body’s largest artery—that runs through the chest. Made up of the ascending aorta, the aortic arch and the upper descending aorta, the proximal thoracic aorta plays a key role in receiving blood from the heart’s left ventricle, distributing blood to organs and tissues, and cushioning blood flow pulsations.

An aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in a weakened section of an artery wall. An undetected and untreated aneurysm in the proximal thoracic aorta can be dangerous because it can burst and cause life-threatening internal bleeding.

The cardiovascular surgeons at WakeMed’s Center for Proximal Aortic Surgery perform the most advanced surgeries to manage proximal aortic conditions such as aneurysms and valve disease, and are making strides in innovative research involving proximal aortic aneurysm surgery.

Diagnosing Proximal Thoracic Aortic Diseases

We begin with an evaluation to understand the patient’s history of cardiovascular disease and hypertension, and the history of the aortic condition itself.  We ask patients to bring any previous studies with them, and we may order additional tests.

Based on this information, our team recommends an individualized plan.

Treating Proximal Thoracic Aortic Diseases

Smaller thoracic aortic aneurysms are typically managed with blood pressure control and regular follow-up imaging.

However, surgical repair of a thoracic aortic aneurysm is usually performed if the aneurysm is large enough to carry a significant risk of rupture or dissection—or if the aneurysm is causing symptoms.

The cardiovascular surgeons at WakeMed’s Center for Proximal Aortic Surgery perform the most advanced surgeries available. To achieve optimal patient outcomes, our clinicians use cutting-edge technologies that include:

  • Endovascular and hybrid approaches
  • Percutaneous and transcatheter valve therapies
  • Minimally invasive aortic surgery
  • Stentless valves
  • Biologic composite grafts
  • Valve repair and valve-sparing aortic roots
  • Advanced cardiopulmonary perfusion techniques

Our specialists are able to provide the latest in advanced surgical options, including:

  • Minimally invasive stent-grafts for selected descending thoracic aortic aneurysms
  • Valve-preserving operations for aortic root aneurysms
  • Multi-modality imaging of a variety of complex thoracic aortic conditions
  • Ascending aneurysm repair
  • Composite aortic root replacement
  • Aortic arch surgery
  • Stent graft/minimally invasive endovascular surgery 

Conditions Treated by the Center for Proximal Aortic Surgery

In addition to treating native aortic infections (including endocarditis) and congenital aortic disease, the Center for Proximal Aortic Surgery treats many types of aortic aneurysms, including:

  • Aortic root aneurysms    
  • Ascending aortic aneurysms
  • Aortic arch aneurysms 
  • Proximal descending thoracic aortic aneurysms 
  • Thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms 
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysms

The Center also treats aortic valve diseases such as aortic stenosis, aortic insufficiency and bicuspid aortic valves.

Make an Appointment

The specially trained surgeons at WakeMed’s Center for Proximal Aortic Surgery perform all types of advanced aortic valve repair surgeries. If you or someone you love might benefit from this type of surgery, make an appointment today with one of WakeMed’s specialized cardiologists.