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Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Surgery

A thoracic aortic aneurysm, an abnormal bulge in a weakened wall of the aorta in the chest area, can cause a variety of symptoms and often life-threatening complications. Due to the serious risks it presents, timely diagnosis and treatment of a thoracic aneurysm are critical.

The decision to treat a thoracic aneurysm with surgery is determined by many factors, including:

  • The presence of symptoms, including chest and back pain, and pain in the jaw, neck and upper back
  • If the aneurysm is growing more than 1 centimeter (cm) per year
  • Signs of an aortic dissection, including sudden, severe sharp tearing pain in the chest or back
  • The age of the patient and the patient’s overall medical condition

How does it work?

The current standard surgical treatment of a thoracic aortic aneurysm is the open-chest approach. The main purpose of open-chest surgery to treat a thoracic aneurysm is to replace the weakened portion of the aorta with a fabric tube, called a graft.

Repairing a thoracic aneurysm is surgically complicated and requires an experienced thoracic surgical team. However, neglecting the aneurysm presents a higher risk.

If surgery is needed on the aortic arch, the procedure is approached from the front chest area. A standard incision for an aneurysm in the descending thoracic aorta is made on the left side of the chest (left thoracotomy).


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