Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Repair

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, you’ll be glad to know that the cardiac surgery team at Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular has extensive expertise in successfully managing this condition.

Working closely with specialists in vascular surgery and interventional cardiology, our cardiac surgeons have performed hundreds of thoracic aneurysm repair procedures. It’s a level of experience that translates into excellent patient outcomes that meet or exceed national benchmarks.

What is an aortic aneurysm?

How thoracic aortic aneurysms are treated

How an aortic aneurysm is treated depends on its size, location, how fast it’s growing, and the patient’s age and medical condition. Treatment may include:

  • Watchful waiting – For a small aneurysm or one that doesn’t cause symptoms, your doctor may recommend “watchful waiting.” This usually includes a CT or MRI scan every six months to closely monitor the aneurysm to see if it is growing or changing in any way.
  • Controlling risk factors – Steps such as quitting smoking, controlling blood sugar if you have diabetes, losing weight if you are overweight or obese, and controlling dietary fat intake may help to control progression of an aneurysm.
  • Medical management – Medication may be used to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol (elevated levels of fat in the blood).
  • Endovascular stent graft repair – Many thoracic aortic aneurysms can be treated with a minimally invasive approach called endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR). An incision is made in the skin at the groin, and a catheter (thin, hollow tube) is threaded under x-ray guidance into the femoral artery to the aortic aneurysm. The doctor passes a compressed stent graft (a tiny, synthetic tube) through the catheter to the aneurysm site where the graft opened, creating new walls in the blood vessel through which blood flows.
  • Open surgical repair – For an ascending or aortic arch aneurysm, a large incision may be made through the breastbone. If an ascending aneurysm involves damage to the aortic valve of the heart, the valve may be repaired or replaced during the procedure. For a descending aneurysm, a large incision may extend from the back under the shoulder blade around the side of the rib cage to just under the breast.

Aortic root aneurysms are usually associated with leaking (insufficiency) of the aortic valve, which may require aortic valve replacement surgery in addition to aneurysm repair.

Which treatment is right for me?

Each patient is unique, so the specific treatment that’s right for you depends on:

  • Your age, overall health and medical history
  • The size of your aneurysm
  • Symptoms you are having
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your personal preferences

Your doctor will discuss all the options with you and together you’ll decide on the most appropriate course of treatment.

Would you like to learn more about Aortic Aneurysm surgery in Portland? Please call us to schedule a consultation: (503) 261-4430.