Repair of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

A Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA) is a bulge in the wall of the aorta (the body’s main blood vessel that starts at your heart and feeds blood to tissues and organs throughout your body). If you have a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA), a section of your aorta that runs through your chest (thorax) has expanded or ballooned over time. This slowly degenerates and, if the Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm is large, it brings a higher risk of the aortic wall bursting.

Why do I need a Repair of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms (TAA) form because the wall of the aorta becomes weak and the pressure of your blood moving inside them forces them to bulge out.

The aortic weakness can occur due to:

  • A degeneration of the aorta wall cased by diseases such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) that gets worse over time.

  • Genetic conditions that cause connective tissue disorders such as Marfan Syndrome, Loeys-Dietz Syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

  • When the inner layer of the arterial wall separates from the outer layers (aortic dissection), leaving them weaker.

The purpose of treatment to repair the aorta is to prevent rupture and the escape of blood into the chest cavity. If a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms (TAA) ruptures, the consequences can be very serious. In most cases, patients do not survive.

The only way to predict the risk of rupture is to measure the Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms (TAA) size or diameter. This is usually done with a CT scan. The weaker the aorta gets, the larger the Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms (TAA) gets. Elective repair to prevent rupture is recommended for most patients when a specific size threshold is reached.  

What is involved in a Repair of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

There are two ways we can repair a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms (TAA) – with endovascular repair or open surgery.

For an endovascular repair of a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms (TAA):

  • The vascular surgeon will make a small incision in your groin

  • A sleeve is inserted inside of the aorta and advanced to reach the aneurysm

  • The sleeve takes the pressure off the wall and prevents it from expanding or possibly leaking

  • This is the preferred procedure because patients recover more quickly and easily

  • In some patients, the sleeves are not compatible with your anatomy and open surgery is necessary

For an open surgical repair of a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms (TAA):

  • Under general anaesthetic, an incision is made along the left side of your chest (usually)

  • The ribs are spread and the weakened area of the aorta is replaced with an artificial blood vessel (graft) made of dacron

  • Blood flow through the aorta is stopped temporarily while the surgeon sews the graft in place

  • A pump is used to keep blood circulating to the body while the aorta is clamped

Where will my procedure be performed?

Your procedure will be performed at the hospital you agreed on with your doctor at your initial consultation.

What are the risks of Repair of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

Repairing a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms (TAA) is a major surgical procedure. There are risks as with any surgical procedure. This includes risks associated with anaesthetic and those related to your specific procedure. Your vascular surgeon will discuss all relevant risks with you prior to your operation.

What will my recovery be like after Repair of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

The recovery period for Repair of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm depends on the type of surgery you’ve had. Healing after open surgery may take longer while endovascular treatment is less invasive.

As with any surgery, you’ll probably feel pain at the site of the incision for some time after the operation. This may be several days to a few weeks. You will be given pain medication to be more comfortable.

More questions?

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask the team at Vascular Associates.