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A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a bulge that develops in a weakened wall of the part of the aorta located in the chest. Because the aorta is the major blood vessel that feeds blood throughout the body, this type of aneurysm can become life-threatening.
Thoracic aortic aneurysms typically grow slowly. When they are small, they usually don’t cause symptoms, which makes them difficult to detect. Some thoracic aortic aneurysms remain small and never cause problems, but larger ones can lead to symptoms that include:
If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm, contact your doctor promptly.
If imaging studies confirm the presence of a thoracic aortic aneurysm and show it to be larger than five centimeters, the cardiologist may recommend an endovascular repair.
The minimally invasive nature of this procedure helps patients recover more quickly and has a lower rate of complications than a traditional surgical repair.
Endovascular aneurysm repair is surgery performed inside the aorta (endovascular), using long tubes and imaging guidance to insert a stent graft that diverts blood away from the aneurysm.
After a patient is given numbing medication and a sedative, the cardiologist will make only one small incision—in the upper thigh, in a femoral artery that supplies blood to the leg.
The cardiologist feeds a guide wire through the artery and beyond the site of the thoracic aneurysm. The stent, which is contained within a catheter, is guided to the site over the guide wire.
Once in place, the catheter is removed, leaving the stent-graft to expand against the walls of the aorta on either side of the aneurysm. This reinforces the walls and helps the blood flow freely through the region.
On the Day of the Surgery
If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of a thoracic aortic aneurysm, make an appointment today with one of WakeMed’s specialized cardiologists.
3000 New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27610