A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a dilation, bulging, or ballooning of a weakened part of the aortic artery wall. The normal pressure of blood from the pumping of the heart causes the weakened portion of the aorta to slowly stretch and bulge, leading to the formation of an aneurysm. Thoracic aortic aneurysms can be life-threatening.
The key to the successful treatment of thoracic aortic aneurysms is careful monitoring and referral for surgical consultation to avoid rupture of the aneurysm – a medical emergency requiring immediate surgical intervention.
Experts agree that aneurysms greater than 5.5 cm in diameter should be evaluated for surgical repair, because the risk of rupture rises as the aneurysm increases in size.
At NewYork-Presbyterian, we have extensive experience with the traditional surgical repair of thoracic aortic aneurysms. In addition, for individuals who might not be candidates for traditional open surgery, we offer the option of minimally invasive endovascular stent grafting.
Endovascular stent grafting is a minimally invasive technique to repair thoracic aortic aneurysms. Surgeons thread a catheter into the aorta through a blood vessel in the patient's groin. They then guide a stent through the catheter and place it at the site of the aneurysm, where it opens up and acts as a scaffold to support the walls of the aorta. The aneurysm gradually shrinks over time.
With the expertise of our specialists, and with early diagnosis, thoracic aortic aneurysms can be successfully repaired with good outcomes and with surgical mortality rates well below national standards.