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Diagnosis / Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA)

The aorta is the largest artery in the body and is the blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to all parts of the body. The section of the aorta that runs through the chest is called the thoracic aorta and, as the aorta moves down through the abdomen it is called the abdominal aorta.

What is a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

A thoracic aortic aneurysm occurs when an artery wall in the aorta weakens; the wall abnormally expands and bulges as blood is pumped through it. This ballooning could be defined as:

  • Fusiform – uniform in shape
  • Saccular – small, lop-sided blister on one side of the aorta

What Causes a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

Thoracic aortic aneurysms are most often caused by atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries that damages the artery’s walls. While your arteries are normally smooth on the inside, as you age they can develop atherosclerosis. When atherosclerosis occurs, a sticky substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries and overtime the excess plaque causes the aorta to stiffen and weaken.

Your risk increases if you:

  • Smoke
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Are overweight
  • Have a family history of vascular disease

Certain disease processes can also weaken the layers of the aortic wall and increase the risk of thoracic aortic aneurysms.

What are the Symptoms of a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm?

Thoracic aortic aneurysms often go unnoticed because patients rarely feel symptomatic. In fact, only 50% of people diagnosed with a thoracic aortic aneurysm complain of symptoms. Some possible signs can include:

  • Pain the jaw, neck and upper back
  • Chest or back pain
  • Coughing or hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing

A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a serious health risk because; depending on its location and size it may rupture and cause life-threatening internal bleeding. However, if detected in time, a thoracic aortic aneurysm can often be repaired with surgery or other less invasive treatments.

IVC’s Treatments for Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms

At IVC, we offer minimally invasive treatments to repair aneurysms. The technique for treatment of a thoracic aortic aneurysm is called TEVAR or thoracic endovascular aneurysm repair and uses long thin tubes called catheters to deliver a stent-graft through the blood vessels and directly to the site of the aneurysm.

If you have been diagnosed with a thoracic aortic aneurysm and would like to learn more about your treatment options call IVC today at 503-612-0498 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

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