Aortic aneurysm

At the University of Maryland Heart Center, our experienced aortic aneurysm team is pioneering advanced treatment options that benefit patients both now and in the future.

At our Center for Aortic Disease, we are committed to giving you the least invasive procedure possible. Many aneurysm procedures used to require a major incision and a heart-lung machine. Now, we can perform the same procedure using a minimally invasive approach. This means smaller incisions and a shorter, more comfortable recovery for you.

We perform innovative combinations of endograft procedures as well as hybrid procedures, which combine a traditional surgery with the endografts.

What is an Aneurysm?

An aneurysm is an abnormal widening or ballooning of a portion of your blood vessel. When it widens, the blood vessel wall becomes weaker in that location. Aneurysms can occur in any artery in the body, including the aorta.

The aorta is the largest artery in the body and the main blood vessel leading from the heart to the body. It carries the blood from the heart and distributes it to the organs of the body. The aorta extends from the heart, traveling:

  • Through the chest (the thoracic aorta) 

  • Into the abdomen (the abdominal aorta)

Causes of Aortic Aneurysm

Causes of thoracic aortic aneurysms include:

Sometimes aortic conditions are genetic. We perform advanced genetic testing to find out if you or your family members are at risk. Learn more about cardiogenetic testing at the University of Maryland Heart Center.

Preventing Aortic Aneurysms

You can take steps to prevent aortic aneurysms. Preventive measures include:

  • Not smoking
  • Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Regular exercise

Aortic Aneurysm Symptoms

Many patients have no symptoms at the time an aneurysm is discovered. In fact, doctors often detect aneurysms during a test performed for entirely different reasons.

Aneurysms may develop slowly over many years and often have no symptoms until they rupture. If the aneurysm expands rapidly, tears open (ruptured aneurysm) or blood leaks along the wall of the vessel (aortic dissection), these symptoms may develop suddenly. If you experience any chest pain, call 911 immediately. Learn more about aortic dissection.

Symptoms of aortic aneurysm rupture may include:

  • Pain in the chest or back
  • Pain that is severe, sudden, persistent or constant 
  • Dry skin and mouth
  • Excessive thirst
  • Nausea, vomiting and fainting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Clammy skin and paleness
  • Fatigue or inability to concentrate
  • Heartbeat sensations or rapid pulse
  • Rapid heart rate when rising to standing position
  • Shock

Diagnosing Aortic Aneurysms

Our heart team uses painless, noninvasive imaging scans to diagnose aneurysms. We perform these tests on an outpatient basis. The tests help us determine whether you have an aneurysm and how big it is. We use sophisticated imaging technology that eliminates the risks and discomforts of injections or invasive procedures. Learn more about cardiac diagnosis.

Minimally Invasive Aneurysm Repair

At our Center for Aortic Disease, we use an integrated approach to treating aortic aneurysms. A team of physicians, including both vascular and cardiac surgeons, work together to create a treatment plan for you. When you come to University of Maryland Heart Center, you are receiving the highest quality care:

  • Experienced team, who treat a high volume of patients every year
  • Expert physicians, with a reputation for treating the most complex and difficult-to-treat aneurysms
  • Personalized care, with a commitment to using an endovascular approach, a type of minimally invasive surgery for aneurysm repair. Learn more about endovascular surgery

One of the most effective treatment options for a thoracic aortic aneurysm is a minimally invasive thoracic aortic aneurysm repair. Until recently, patients with thoracic aortic aneurysms needed open heart surgery for repair. Now we can perform an effective, safe procedure with only a small incision, leading to a faster recovery. Learn more about the dedicated care at our Center for Aortic Disease

For more information or to make an appointment, please call 1-866-408-6885.

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