Diseases of the Thoracic Aorta
The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It extends from the heart, down through the chest (thoracic aorta) and into the abdomen (abdominal aorta), carrying oxygenated blood away from the heart to the rest of the body.
Thoracic aortic diseases include:
|Aortic dissections||Traumatic injury|
Ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections represent life-threatening emergencies that require immediate medical attention.
Thoracic aortic aneurysms affect approximately 15,000 people in the United States each year.
The Thoracic Aortic Disease program at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is designed to manage all aspects of thoracic aortic disease from the aortic valve down through the thoraco-abdominal aorta. This program is led by co-directors:
|S. Chris Malaisrie, MD
|Mark K. Eskandari, MD
This team of specialists works together to ensure state-of-the-art patient care, using the most advanced therapies available, practicing the safest techniques of circulation management using specialized perfusion techniques during surgery on the thoracic area.
The team uses a comprehensive monitoring system that tracks heart, brain, and spinal cord function during surgery. This helps the Thoracic Aortic Disease program team achieve better long-term clinical outcomes for each patient.
The treatment options for aortic aneurysm include:
Surgical repair is necessary when the thoracic aortic aneurysm reaches a significant size (5-6 cm) that increases the risk of dissection or rupture.
Anatomy of the Thoracic Aorta
To understand thoracic aortic disease, including thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection, it is helpful to understand the parts of the thoracic aorta, including:
|Aortic valve||Descending aortic arch|
|Aortic root||Thoraco-abdominal aorta|
|Ascending thoracic aorta||Abdominal aorta|
|Transverse aortic arch|
Aorta with its major branches.
Symptoms of Thoracic Aortic Disease
Thoracic aortic aneurysms develop slowly and are typically without symptoms (asymptomatic). However, if symptoms are present, they may include:
|Back pain||Difficulty swallowing|
|Sudden and severe chest pain||Shortness of breath|
|Leg pain or numbness|
The following tests may help your physician diagnose thoracic aortic disease, including:
Clinical Trials for Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
Several clinical research trials are currently underway at the Center for Vascular Disease and Center for Heart Valve Disease to investigate and improve the care for patients with thoracic aortic disease. These ongoing clinical research trials help to ensure that our patients with thoracic aortic disease continue to receive the most innovative care in the country.
For more information regarding thoracic aortic disease and the treatments available, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 866-662-8467. To schedule an appointment, please call 312-695-4965 or request a first-time appointment online.