Overview of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Repair
Thoracic aortic aneurysm repair is an open-chest surgery that repairs a portion of the aorta, the main blood vessel that carries blood from your heart to your brain and vital organs. This surgery is used to treat an aortic aneurysm, or enlargement of the aorta.
Surgery is recommended when the aortic aneurysm is over 5 centimeters wide in diameter. The enlarged portion of the aorta is removed and replaced with a man-made (synthetic) tube, or graft. The graft is made from a medical-grade cloth called Dacron that is used to replace or repair blood vessels.
Surgery for these aneurysms is performed through the breastbone. When the aneurysm is located in the lower part of the chest or extends into the belly, the operation is performed through the left side of the chest. The heart-lung machine is used during surgery to support the patient's breathing and circulation.
This image shows thoracic aortic aneurysm repair. The surgeon has removed a portion of the aorta and replaced it with a graft.
Certain aneurysms are associated with other heart diseases, such as aortic valve disease or coronary artery disease. Repair of the aneurysm is sometimes combined with valve or coronary artery surgery.
Recovery after aneurysm surgery depends on whether the operation was needed in an emergency and how much of the aorta was replaced. In general, patients that undergo a planned, elective operation and who do not have other medical problems recover smoothly. The synthetic graft is highly durable and does not require any additional medicines.
Some patients will be eligible for a less invasive surgery known as thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR), where smaller incisions are made and the graft is placed using a catheter.
Where is Aortic Aneurysm Repair Performed?
Aortic aneurysm surgeries are performed in the cardiovascular operating room (also called the CV OR) by a cardiothoracic surgeon and the cardiovascular OR team.
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